Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010 a year of Joy...

It is important to look back...though not always easy. 6 months ago we started an unbelievable journey and you all joined us. The blessings that we are experiencing are beyond comprehension - as are the trials. We continue to learn and grow and as we walk forward the tragedies of others come to our attention. We desire so much for the community that we have experienced to be the reality in the lives of others as they go through trials. Cancer, surgery, divorce, addiction, neglect, depression and oh so much more punch us knock the wind out of our souls. And yet as we are embraced by community we feel the hand of God in the midst of the pain. If there is no pain, life is over for we can be assured that more trials will come. But we are not those that shrink back and surrender. We are children of the King and the God who saves and restores and pours out His love into our hearts. In the midst of brokenness, new life is found. This new life no longer fits into the former system for that will stifle growth. New life needs new patterns of thinking - new wine skins as the Bible calls it. My prayer as we begin 2010 is that we find new ways of pursing joy - not focusing on the old way of doing things for we have seen life anew. My prayer is that we will reflect the character of Christ in increasing measure. That I will respond to my family with love, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control... that I will not demand my way first but sacrificially pursue that which is best for others. At least for me, I am praying that 2010 will be a year of Joy - and what I am discovering is that I do have control over that for it is more an attitude than a feeling. Joy is not dependent on all things happening they way I think they should but rests with my brokenness being restored as I surrender to God. 2010 will have more opportunities for steps of faith, more opportunities for testing our hope. and more opportunities to see the hand of God work. We can find joy in these times as well as times of bounty. In life and in death, healing and sickness, in richness and in poverty we can still find joy. As we find joy and give our full attention to the Cross of Christ, to salvation, to the grace of God...our lives, the community and the world is transformed.

I feel like the verses below really sum up things well for this Journey. I know that not all who have stuck with us share our faith or belief. I also know that many who do share our faith struggle with sticking with it. I know we do. Yet looking back we see the hand of God. Despite the imperfections and hypocrisy we see in others and within ourselves, we have found that God is hanging with us and continues to breathe life so that we can take one more step forward. These verses below do not come from an ivory tower but from a prison cell penned with a hand that has known suffering - they are so comforting and encouraging and the more I read the more I gain from them. I wanted to shorten it and yet find richness in the wholeness - in fact I should even add more. If so inclined read Philippians straight through each day for a week you will find such incredible insight.

Philippians 1:3-30
"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.   
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have."

Finding joy...

Tom (Daddy) 

Friday, January 1, 2010

January 1, 2010

It is almost 1 AM. As I sit here typing in my laundry room, Jacob and his friends are having fun behind me. Jake invited a few friends up for a New Year party. Loud laughing enjoying being together. We kind of just let Jake do his thing with his friends. But I am struck right now by the enormity of it all. Jake is able to celebrate and enjoy being alive - having made it to 2010. I am not sure if Jake or any of his friends are able to take the time to understand how truly amazing all of this is. More and more I receive prayer requests from people who have been touched by this journey - who have joined this journey. Some I am able to pass along through this blog or on Facebook. Some I simply treasure and hold in my heart.
Tonight I received a prayer from a wonderful lady that I know praying that the Lord would just take her mom and free her from the suffering that will only get worse from this point forward. I also received a notice from a friend about Natalie who is a mother of 4 and now sits in a coma in a hospital - car accident on Christmas night. My heart goes out and prayers are being sent for her husband and children. What a journey to enter - what a burden to bear. I added the link for Natalie's website to the left. It just is not right. Let the chorus of prayer ring out. Miracles do happen. God does listen.
I do not think that Jacob's Journey is supposed to be simply a prayer chain. But I do get so excited to pass these on knowing that they are landing in the hands of those that understand and have walked a path of prayer - with us - with others - for themselves. There is a chorus of prayers ringing out - hearts of compassion - hope that miracles do happen, God is still listening. We continue to pray as we have been for Jessica, Andrew, Reudi, Monty and now Natalie. We pray that God would step in and that we would recognize his presence. In the midst of extreme pain, heartache, confusion and anger we do not surrender hope - not just that everything will be the way we want it to be but the way God wants it to be.
Jake and I today spent a couple of hours in Peet's Coffee doing school. How cool is that - doing schoolwork on New Year’s Eve. In this midst of all that we are going through we still have a lot to catch up on for school. It was good - Jake worked on his own while I did some reading. I am still reading Philippians where Paul talks a lot about joy. I am convinced that Joy is less a result of good things happening and more an attitude that we pursue and drape around our neck like a fine scarf - not that I really wear scarf’s but you know what I mean. We choose to wear joy - we choose to see the joy in suffering - the blessing in hardship - the hope in trials. Joy is an essential garment that is like a protective uniform that protects us. Maybe more bullet proof vest than scarf then.
I keep holding up 2010 in my heart as a year of joy. I am convinced that no person can rip away joy - except for one person - me. I have the power to make it rain or make it sunny. Joy comes from the perspective for which I gaze on it. I do not simply desire that 2010 comes with a lot of temporal blessing but that it I dwell in the arena of joy. For if I am joyful in all circumstances - others will pick up on that - joy is infectious, attractive, and deeply desired. Gazing on the God who is in control brings great rejoicing.
So bring it on 2010 in sickness and in health, for better or worse - let there be joy.
Happy New Year

Tom (Daddy)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Obama has not called

I did a lot of driving today...listened to some podcasts that are long overdue. I have not really wanted to listen to others speaking lately. I feel like the themes are either totally irrelevant or way too relevant. One of the podcasts was a sermon that a guy preached in August and it was - yeah, felt funny even saying it - suffering. Specifically perseverance, faith, and suffering. Part of what he said really made me chuckle out of frustration. I am struggling right now even remembering what it was but it was basically something about having an eternal perspective as we encounter trials and that our faith needs to be more than a desire for comfort now but a desire for eternal comfort.
I feel like my faith is so weak right now. I keep waiting for God to open up this huge door and reveal why our family has gone through this last six months. I keep waiting for a phone call that puts it all in place. Like if President Obama called me tomorrow and said, "Tom we want you to serve on a special task force that exists to eliminate pain and suffering in this world." Hmm maybe that oversteps his jurisdiction. I think I try too hard to make things fit neatly into place.

We strive so hard to make things make sense. We want to control and predict so that we can avoid surprises. When will the next big earthquake be? How long until the polar ice caps melt? When will the sun run out? I set up motion detectors around my life so that I won't be surprised when something or someone approaches. My faith is weak. I need to control things. I fear that the unexpected might happen again to someone in my life. "Drive safely. Wear your helmet. Take your vitamins." I asked this question way before Jake's accident: "Is my faith merely wishful thinking?"

Faith is about trust. Faith is about action. Faith is only as strong as the object in which it is placed.

Faith is not about control and perfect calculations but about responding with a character of trust - that comes through perseverance - that comes with making it through suffering with eyes wide open and a heart of joy. Not expecting everything in this world to be perfect but responding with peace, patience, kindness, and gentleness.

I think lately I have been demanding and expecting rather than accepting and rejoicing. I have been frustrated and saddened for Jacob as it seems like this part of the journey seems to drag on and on. Yes I have been thankful. Yes I have been enjoying him. But there is a selfish spike that I am so ashamed of that just seems to say okay let's get on with things. He has suffered enough. We have sacrificed enough. Faith is not about me controlling this or about my timing - it is about trusting, waiting, accepting and hoping. God has got it in his timing and that is worth trusting in.

As for Jacob...he is doing a little bit better, a little bit stronger, each and every day. The thumb, though we continue to watch it is healing. We have an appointment in January for an evaluation for surgery on his head. And we continue to move forward. Remembering where we have come - how far we have come - the miracles that have happened - help to keep our eyes on the hope that is yet to come.

Grace and peace,

Tom (Daddy)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mom’s Christmas Ramblings

It's the night after Christmas 2009 and all through our house runs the theme of gratefulness for life – of course for JK's life but for "life" in general. I didn't take it for granted this Christmas that all 3 of my boys, Tom, his sister, my sister were all together once again on Christmas Eve to wear matching red, footed, fleece jammies with Santa feet. I even had a pair for Tom to wear but he was vehemently opposed to the idea. Our "family" photo of all of us had me holding Tom's jammies as Tom "volunteered" to take the picture. JK had requested the PJ's be footed this year and we actually found them long enough for his legs!

It has been and will continue to be a rough road – a battle for our minds as well as Jake's body. His thumb is very slowly growing skin over as it should after the graft surgery 6+ weeks ago. There are two spots that still need the skin to grow or "take". So we wait and pray and wait and change the dressing and pray and wait: daily dressing changes and weekly doctor appointments to monitor things. Fortunately both JK and I like and trust both the thumb doctors we see so that helps. JK's right foot is also a bit of a concern as it is such a tender area (skin on bone is tough to heal).

JK has an appointment scheduled with the neurosurgeon in mid January. This is the same doctor who (along with the plastic surgeons) did the 10 hour surgery to remove the dead skull area. As far as I understand he won't operate until Jacob is free of infection for a month. The synthetic prosthesis is an easy conduit of germs. So Jake is still on Vankomycin twice a day. We hook a bottle to his pik line and the bubble inside squeezes out the liquid over a 2-3 hour period. Jake will be so very glad to be free from it.

So we wait and pray. (Have I said that before?) And I thank God that he is at home and is more courageous than he realizes…I am so proud of him. He still longs for his old, "normal" life back – that is a daily struggle. But he does have his sense of humor and his affectionate ways about him. He hates feeling like he's being stared at but he goes into restaurants and has a way about him that charms the waitresses. He is so loving and kind (also at times sarcastic but hey he is 17). Jake also longs for his old job back at Freeline Surf Shop but instead of being angry and bitter at what he can't have, he goes in fairly often to say hi. They are like an extended family to him – truly the best surf shop ever!

It has been a gift to me personally to feel that so many, many people continue to give of themselves for JK and our family in so many says. It does not feel that it is being done out of pity – I feel like giving has come from hearts that are celebrating along with us that JK is alive and walking and talking and so still so intelligent and semi-sarcastic yet funny as ever. So thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you all.

There are days that anger, sadness and depression lead and yet it is so good to hang in there and stick it out because there are also days that are full of contentment, gratefulness, peace and fun as well. God does exist and is with us regardless of how we act and feel. He loves us and that is the lesson that I am still learning – day after day. I have been reading slowly through a book by Ed Underwood called, "When God Breaks your Heart." He takes his personal near-death tragedies as well as the story of a Biblical family Lazarus, Mary and Martha. He points out quite poignantly how God has different plans for each of us. We cannot truly see God's bigger picture and how our lives reflect His glory.

Yes, I struggle that the hurts/tragedies in our lives are because God hates us or is punishing us or doesn't care or plays bizarre games with us. But if I believe that as truth, it simply leads me to deeper despair and a giving up mindset – "what is the point? – type days." When I trust that Christmas is really about I have hope. Christmas - the birth of a baby in a filthy, stinky stable. Christmas – the baby became a man living in a rather filthy, stinky world with filthy, stinky people. Christmas – the man went to a cross and dying on the cross still uttered "Father forgive them…" Christmas – leads us to a cross where Jesus in his darkest hour abused and murder by the stinky, filthy humanity that he created still chose to love us. There is still hope.

As I wonder some days and worry about the future…operations, high school graduation, surfing, bike riding, career, will something else happen to Jacob, Robbie, Jensen…the miracle of Christmas is a pretty good reminder. I guess that I am choosing to love in a way when I "let go" and give up my boys, my husband, my family, my friends to God and trust. Otherwise I'd go cuckoo (maybe I already have J.)

This is my wordy way of trying to say we all had a very good Christmas Eve and day and day after even. And there is so much more to come as friends come and visit. Suffice to end with this: I know each one of us struggles, hurts, feels alone, cries and goes through dark times - even if we haven't had extreme tragedies in life. I also know that despite my trembling, when I place my trust in Jesus, He saves me.

Merriest of New Year to you this 2010 and thanks again to those of you who have and continue to care for us in so many ways.


Debbie (Mom)