Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Gala

Tonight we were able to be a part of an incredible event - the Valley Medical Center Burn Center Gala. This dinner and auction was set up to benefit the Burn Center itself but also those that come through that amazing place. It was incredible in that we were able to connect with Dr's. and Nurses that cared for Jacob - they got to meet Jacob and talk to him. Jake does not remember any of them - his memory was of Kaiser. It was a beautiful even benefiting some beautiful people - an incredible community - of we are fully a part of. We also were able to include at our tables some people that were close to us on this journey: Greg and Patty (Greg is the fireman who saved Jacob), Jim and Sue (evening Tom/Debbie/Jacob care), Lisa and Paul (Lisa gave Tom/Debbie/Jacob the morning care), Debbie and John (family we came to know and love), Julie and Jean-Marc (Debbie's sister), Kirky (Tom's sister) and of course the Kirkendall 5. We were not able to make it through the whole evening as Jake's back started really hurting him - long time for him to sit.

Jacob was one of two survivors recognized for the the encouragement that they gave to the staff - reminding them why they do what they do - hope, healing, love and caring. He also were able to meet some burn survivors and hear other stories as his story still unfolds and he begins to get a voice for all of this. I am so incredibly proud of him - to see his heart emerge from this journey. He truly does have a genuine and caring heart. One survivor read a poem and Jake made sure to thank her. She gave him a poem that she wrote in the midst of her pain.

The Lost Me
by Suzanne Soucy
What once was beautiful,
will now never be the same.
For, I only have myself to blame
I use to walk proud...
I'd hold my head high
That's how I used to be
When people walk by
Only, now days I am sad
My hearts are filled with sorrow
I almost don't care about tomorrow.
I'm so mangled and battered
What the hell...it shouldn't matter.
But it does...I guess, just because
I sure do miss who I was.
I know on the inside I'm still the same
but on the outside? Huh I'm not!
I look in the mirror
and it's not my face---it's just not!
Yes, it's true; the mirror doesn't lie.
That, know one can deny
But what it doesn't seem to show --
is I have one of the biggest hearts I know.
-------------------------------------------
All I could keep thinking tonight was that this is not over yet. There is more to do - not just with Jake but with others. Faith, hope and love are very connected.
Peace and love
Tom (JK Daddy)

Friday, November 6, 2009

I am working on 4 hours sleep so nothing that follows may be coherent. Today, despite the wild all-niter in surgery was amazingly wonderful. I woke up at 7 and got Jensen to school then came home and started doing some reading and cleaning and organizing at home. Jake woke up and it was time to go to IHOP. I had forgotten at the wee ours of the morning we had promised that when he woke up. On the way down the hill we decided for Red Apple instead. Getting into the car Jake's back was hurting - he was stressed - which increases the tension - increasing the pain. Yet the ride and the time at the restaurant for me and Jake and Debbie went very well - it was so cool to sit there and be together. Jake even asked the waitress what she thought of when she saw his head. She had already seen his picture in the newspaper but did not want to ask. 

We then headed over the hill to pick-up Robbie from the airport. Jake wanted to go - he wanted to surprise Rob. Again special time. We then got home and a bit later Rene, the pastor at Twin Lakes came up to hang out with Jake. It was a very affirming time for all of us. Watching Rene and Jake talk and for Jake to start to see a message of hope for others through this was so affirming. We get to share in the Sunday morning services at Twin Lakes as they are in the midst of a series on "Hope". 

Saturday night we are unable to be at Twin Lakes for that service because we will be at a Gala fundraiser benefitting the Valley Medical Burn Center. Though it will be a busy weekend there is movement forward and celebrations for this family and this community. We need to celebrate don't we? We need to stop and take a breath and look back at what God has done and is doing in our midst. It is so easy to plow ahead without asking simple questions. These questions can serve to refine and direct and make sure that we are headed correctly in our direction. 

Jake honestly gets overwhelmed and still hurts so badly - not physically but mentally as he lingers in a moment: this is not how things should be, I should be here and there and doing this. He also hurts physically and these things feed off of each other. And then we stop and we breath and we remember how far we have come and what we are moving toward and we evaluate. That brings discovery as reality is revealed and we evaluate. God is still the same - we are the ones scurrying about trying to figure things out. 

Hope leads us to tomorrow - It helps us move in today but we land in the lap of tomorrow - and we wait. Hope is not dead. Hope is not merely wishful thinking. It is placing our trust in the lap of the savior and allowing God to o the rest. 

May God be the source our strength, courage, treasure. I am definitely falling asleep. 

Grace, hope, peace and above all...love. 

Tom (JK Daddy) 

home again

It is 2:35 am - we are home - Jake is doing well. It was so cool to have him awake and feeling good after waking up from surgery. We are tired. But loving that it is Friday and that the thumb surgery is behind us.

Big prayer to commit to would that now it is grafted that God would heal. The bone is far from perfect and it is not a guarantee easy graft to take. So pray pray pray. That God would do far beyond what we can even think or imagine.

Good night - hmmm - good morning...

Tom (JK very tired Daddy)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

is waiting ever perfected?

I have not written from the hospital for a while. I am sitting here in pre-op as we wait and wait and wait. We thought the surgery was going to be around 5. The surgeon was ready but the rooms were still occupied. And so we have been here since 10:30 am. We are hoping that surgery will happen by 9 and we will be done by 11. But we are not holding any breath. We have been here before...remember? We do. It has just been a while.

Jake is frustrated and his back is bugging him on this bed. He gets up and walks around here and there. He has not been able to eat since this morning and has not had water since noon. Of course you will all be glad to know that Jim and Sue are here - they brought us dinner - Jake's will be available for him after surgery if he feels like eating. My sister is with Jensen and I am sure they are having a blast. What was an everyday thing a month ago has returned. Back in the hospital.

What seemed to be working out so perfectly for us hours ago has left us having to remain flexible. But we are so thankful that we are going through this - finally getting to surgery on his thumb and to cover up that bone. Thankful that we are not amputating even the tip. Thankful that he will have some use. He is already starting to use his right hand a bit more - although it feels strange and is highly sensitive. It feels really awesome to be having this simple graft rather than a more elaborate flap that would leave his hand sewn to his body for 4 weeks. It feels good to close it up and see how God heals it. We may have to return to it down the road and do something else or it will heal on it's own (God's help) and Jake will learn how to adapt.

Regardless tonight we wait but we wait with eager anticipation to move forward and get on with another step of healing. It is not perfectly how we would like it to go - but we are moving forward and see hope in the midst of the wait.

Grace and peace

Tom (JK Daddy)

OR nurses just got here to start the process...it is now 8:30

Thumb surgery today!!!!

For some reason we all woke up between 4 am and 5 am. We had two appointments scheduled. One at 10:30 and the other at 1:30. Bummer big gap - so we were going to IHOP. Then we got a call that changed the 1:30 to 11:30. Cool. IHOP then home. Then I made one more call to see about Jake's thumb surgery - maybe next week? That all changed and they are squeezing him in today. We are not sure when yet but it is a two hour out-patient surgery. He now cannot eat until after surgery. When I told him - anxiety rose high. Yet he is also excited that he will not have to see his bone anymore.

Pray that the surgery will come soon. It is now going on noon. We may have to wait until after 5.

Thanks

More later

Tom (JK Daddy)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

blessed to be unemployed

I am tired but wanted to put something up quickly to give a Jacob update. He is doing better. It was a long, hard day, but it feels like it is moving in the right direction. We had an appointment with the physical therapist, Abby. Jake was doing really well with all that Abby was having him do. He was lying down and as he got up he got dizzy and had a slight seizure. He has been having them here and there for the last few weeks. We went from there immediately and was able to get squeezed into seeing the neurologist that we saw last week. She had just called me this morning to change one of his medications. We really believe that it is due to the muscle relaxant that he has been taking for muscle spasms in his back. We already reduced it to only a half of a tablet at night but at this point are totally eliminating it.

Jake's back is doing better. He did not use his wheel chair at all for his appointments today. That is the most that he walked yet. He did well. We also got to go to sushi today together - just the two of us. It was great - one of our favorite things to do - not our favorite sushi place - but it was an amazing thing to treasure.

One of the amazing things that Jacob and I talked about was the blessing of being unemployed - he was feeling bad about it for me - but I told him that we have been given a treasure - an amazing gift. Our goal is that by January we are back in normal mode but for now so many have blessed us and allowed us to give our full attention on our family - taking care of our life, our family, our home. I can't say this is why I have been unemployed - I do not think it is that simple but it is a blessing to be unemployed. Perhaps through this we can get some things going to also be a blessing to others to take the lessons from the "Jacob's Journey Community" and extend that to others. There are so many that we can come alongside and bless - there will be more that we can bless and care for and love.

We are blessed to be a blessing. We are loved to be loving. We have hope to bring hope.

Tom (JK Daddy)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"I'm sorry, Daddy."

Jake is hurting tonight - he was pretty good today - but tonight, maybe just a little while ago his back started hurting him. Tomorrow we have an appointment at physical therapy. We need to get the muscles working and strong again but I know it is hard too when you are anxious about a movement that might twinge the nerves in your back - stiff, pensive, frustrated. Jake keeps apologizing to us. He feels bad for all that we are doing for him. We are just thankful that we have the time with him. What a blessing it is to have him alive and have him able to communicate to us where he is hurting.

Jake does not need to apologize for our sake. If it helps him that is fine, but Debbie and I want to be here with him. We want to help him and ease his pain and work him toward healthier more independent living. It is hard - it is so tiring - but there is no regret. Jacob's inability to do what we expect or want him to do does not change our devotion and love for him. Imagine that same view from the throne of God. Our lack of faith, inability to trust, the weakness of our hope does not change God's faithfulness, trustworthiness, or his ability to act. Even now I put so much on myself instead of on God. (Check out Romans 3)

Am I working toward being who God has called me to be? Is the bent of my life to walk away from sin or to get as close to sin as possible? None are perfect but the grace of God - the death of Christ - the story of God - includes me, forgives me, makes up for my lacking. Just as Jacob does not have to walk or use his hand to be my son, we do not have to be more than we are right now to be loved by God - to be his child. The beautiful fact is that God created a way for me to be his child while I am still a sinner. My faith is weak but God is still faithful.

I still though work through my recovery. Toward having faith.

My heart and mind continue to pray for Andrew as well. As I help Jacob with his exercises, I pray that Don will be able to move Andrew through recovery. God is the God of miracles - we have seen it - Jacob is living, loving proof of God's hand - He is still good even though this situation is so black. God is still in control even when things seem so out of control. Today right now is exactly where you are supposed to be. The question for us is are we going to stand in faith or are we going to crumble into bitterness and decay?

Then the Lord said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you." Ex 34:10


Everything we do should be moving toward love and good deeds. Heb 10:24


Tom (JK Daddy)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Thanks and prayers tonight...

Jake's CT scan went very well. While we were at the hospital we were able to see a neurologist to and make some necessary adjustments to his current meds. He is still on an anti-seizure med and will be on it until after the skull cap is replaced. It was a long tiring day and though his back is still hurting it does seem to be getting better. He was able to do some walking and such. In the midst of all of this we received a triple blessing from Tom, Drew and four wonderful ladies. It still amazes me that you all are with us. We also want to expand this community.

Robbie posted this earlier...please surround the Sinclair family with our love and support and prayers as we desperately plea for another young man. Check out their website and lift them before the Lord - may God's presence surround and engulf them. This is the next step of Jacob's Journey or this Journey Through Fire - to come alongside others. It is what I know God is leading us to - the Church BEING the Church - and we as those called by Chosen to love and good deeds.

In thanks and wounded prayers.

Tom (JK Daddy)

Urgent: Prayer for Andrew Sinclair

PRAY FOR ANDREW SINCLAIR
A young man named Andrew Sinclair was in a bad car accident this last week. A friend has asked that the Jacob's Journey community be lifting him up in prayer as they are still unsure as to what the future holds for him. "He is in a medically induced coma with collapsed lungs, unknown brain issues, on 40% ventilation and several other fractures and things that they are not even addressing right now."

PLEASE lift this young man up in prayer, that the Lord would heal him and draw him into his loving arms, along with the rest of the family as they grieve and adjust to the hectic, chaotic lifestyle that we experienced this summer. "Prayers are so critical in the next couple of days."

Please Lord, hear our prayer and rescue this boy. As we know, miracles do happen.

Check out http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/andrewsinclair to follow the story, and maybe leave an encouraging note for the family. This link will be on the page to the left under "Community News."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

CT Scan tomorrow...

Jake is hurting a bit; gets very frustrated; moves into sadness. Recovery is such a long hard road. It is so different than the hospital where doctors would check on our progress every day and give us a plan for what is going to happen. At home we move from bed to chair; get on the floor to do exercises; move to another chair; back to bed; back is hurting. Each time he gets up he still gets light headed and sometimes has a slight seizure-type reaction. Scares all of us - but we try to remain calm, knowing it will pass. Though we know it is part of the process, tomorrow I am going to check in again with the rehab doctor.


Big prayer request is for the anxiety that comes with each pain, reaction, movement - not to mention the procedures that come. Tomorrow afternoon he has a CT Scan to design the piece that goes under the current muscle flap to protect his brain. Pray for peace, patience, understanding. Thanks for praying: for those that pray once when they read and those that pray often throughout the day. God loves the prayers of those that love him - simply having a conversation with God.


I love these verses in Hebrews "...since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." 10:19-25


We have an opportunity to walk into the presence of God and lay our hearts bear before the God who loves us and does not change. If you have not encountered Christ this seems like a very strange thing. That God would send his son to die may seem foolish, ludicrous, strange. For me it has become salvation, hope, comfort. I take this ability to pray far to flippantly at times. I say a prayer out of obligation or duty rather than truly entering into the presence of God. It is a spiritual movement - a strange and wonderful miracle. This all came through the cross - the beautiful representation of faith.


How strange it is that we see such beauty in an instrument of death. This was no beautiful piece of jewelry 2000 years ago - it was an object that struck fear and sorrow in the hearts of many. But that is what redemption does - it takes what is dead and breathes into it life. It takes what is bloody and shameful and brings purity and holiness. "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but for us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1Cor 1:18


The gathering of saints is an amazing expression of oneness. Transformation occurs in various models of community - the question facing us in this generation is: are we truly allowing the spirit of God to transform us, change us, mold us toward holiness or are we gathering to be entertained. Is our hope resting on getting from Sunday to Sunday with little difficulty and "how-to" helps? Or are we BEING THE CHURCH. Are we being transformed and doing good deeds. We gather to spur each other on toward love and good deeds. (1Cor 1:24)


We have seen the church as it has continued to come around us. Paul says in Romans 1:11-12 that we mutually encourage one another as we spiritually gift each other. It is what we long for that we would gather in a place and be able to reveal who we truly are and find there shelter of grace, love, encouragement. Not that we allow each other to be in the mud but that we are able to mutually sharpen each other as we find healing. That is recovery. That is what we are walking through together with Jacob.


In a sense we need the community around us more in the midst of recovery as we do in the facing of the tragedy - mutually encouraged.


Thanks for entering the presence of God with us - aka thanks for your prayers.


Tom (JK Daddy)

Healing and Church

I am with my dad - I no longer really know what to write on this blog. I have been keeping it geared toward updates on Jake the last few posts, and I don't want to just go on some random rant... but I have this resolve in me to keep putting stuff up here, even though I often sit down and don't know what to say.

To start, I heard from Jake that his back did a little better yesterday after he tried sleeping in a different bed. He's going to keep experimenting with things like that until he sees some change. He typically does not sleep well through the night either, so that could be one more item for the prayer list.

After talking to my family on the phone the other day, I was a bit overwhelmed with thinking how much God could still take and use this situation to help others in the years to come. Something I have said before goes something like: "Comfort is all about PRESENCE, showing someone that they are loved by YOU despite the outcome, that you are on their side, that they still have something to live for." It is not about the words that we say or the things we bring or the prayers we pray - it is about our hearts and attitudes toward that person. Are we like an aloof hospital chaplain who comes and prays and offers counsel without simply knowing what is truly going on, or getting to know the hearts of the people, or listening? Or do we show that person that we are purely there for them, not for our own agenda of trying to console them or tell them that God is still good or make sure they are still right with God. Bringing the healing that Jesus talks about, the restoration, is all about bringing his presence of love. To do this, we need to LISTEN, ALLOW SPACE, and simply BE WITH. Let the other person dictate the vibe of the time; it is the role of the healer to simply love, even if that love is never verbally expressed.

The reason I say this is I feel like this is a practical lesson that people can learn from our situation and will learn in the future. Also, it is so strange to me how God has been using the internet, using the blog with this very purpose. Throughout the whole summer I was skeptical because of how impersonal blogging seems. Yet we have heard numerous stories of people being deeply affected by it. In our day and age, (especially here at Biola :), media resources, computer, internet etc. are talked about as distractions and as things we need to detox from in order to have a better relationship with God. While this might be true in a certain sense, what a blessing to see a practical way in which God has truly used these to do his restorative work in this world! Like I said, there have been numerous stories. The most recent one really struck me - as this person was sitting in the hopsital with a loved one going through a medical crisis, feeling exhausted from being in the hospital for most of 24 hours, they thought: "Well, the Kirkendalls know all about being this tired!" This so resonates with what a just wrote above - somehow, we were able to be that presence to this person. What a huge blessing.

I have had conversations with many friends about the state of the church in our age. How the old models of "doing church" are slowly crumbling. They aren't working for the new generation. We will need to explore creative ways of "being the Church (big C)" in the future that goes far beyond the typical church structure. I feel that this journey, the relationships forged this summer, this internet community, etc. have opened my (our?) eyes to many of these creative ways, about what the Church really looks like, how what we are truly comes out in times of crisis. I encourage you to explore what some of these creative ways of being the Church will look like in your respective communities. Think and pray about it, and ask God for the courage to act out in what you discover. That's the part that is really hard for me :).

-Rob (Jake's brother)

p.s. Again, please email any stories you would like to share with us to journeythroughfire@gmail.com