Sunday, August 15, 2010 still there?

It has been a much easier summer than last year. Is that the biggest understatement ever?

I wrote last that we really would not be posting here anymore. Yet I have had a few people tell me that they will check here anyway. Hopefully soon we will have a blog integrated with a website and newsletter. I have not really known what to write. That did not stop me before I just logged on and wrote. But then it was an, "I do not care what others think" as I was so focused on updates about Jake and calling to others for prayer. It was a time of desperation and woundedness that I have not felt in a long time. What is going on now for me is trying to make sure I step back and understand what God is laying before us and which path we should be taking. My barrier to writing is really myself.

My mom took me aside after the last post and was concerned that I was living in angst about what next tragedy might take place. How cool is it to have a mom that loves me enough to do that? I actually really appreciated that. The truth is that I am not living in angst but I am also not naive enough to think we have had all the tragedy already. People had already referred to me as Job before Jake's accident. In fact I remember sharing in a sermon once that with all else that God had allowed us to go through - he had been protecting my family. I was thinking about writing a book called "The Unsuccessful Life." Yet through all that has happened, God has been present - not just carrying us through but refining us and shaping us to be who he wants us to be.

Paul asked this question in Galatians: "Have you suffered so many things in vain?" (3:4) Then in Romans he says, "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us." (3:18) We want so desperately to make perfect sense of the suffering that we go through. And really, ultimately we can't. We can see blessings in the midst of heartache - beauty come from ashes. But honestly there is still confusion and a lingering around the "why" question. Confusion or lack of clarity is okay on our part. Perfect understanding, though we seek it, is not something to rely on. I memorized Proverbs 3:5-6 in high school "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. But in all your ways acknowledge God and He will set your path straight."

God is present in the midst of our suffering. That is still the biggest take away from Jacob's Journey for me. Suffering hits without prejudice and no one' s suffering is greater or lesser than another. Pain is pain. Heartache is heartache. Loss is loss. Suffering is in vain if we resist it's shaping of our hearts and enriching of our soul.

I have had many conversations lately about the vision that God has laid on my heart. Conversations that bring feedback leading to both clarification and confusion. Some of the conversations are interviews and some are just brainstorming. But it seems that the path emerges just enough to know where to take the next step but not the next several steps. All are steps of faith. All are steps of provision.

I am still working two days a week as a volunteer chaplain at Valley Medical. I know that this is a time of refining and teaching me as much as it is for me to minister to others. And I long to be used by God for others to have some sort of greater degree of hope. So many asked us during Jake's trauma, "what can we do?" and we responded, "just pray." The only thing is so often the best thing that we can do: "pray". I get so frustrated because I feel like I have more to offer. I entered one room recently and that wife was crying and just shooed me away. That is the ministry that she needed on that day.

I often think of Jim and Sue bringing us burritos almost every night. The consistent love that was shown not in the big flashy help but the "burrito in the name of Christ" love that is bound up in a relationship. What can we do to provide practical love to those in the midst of trauma. That is the bigger vision that continues to press on my temple. I pray that we would see the Church unified - all these little churches, ministries and individuals that love Christ and deeply desire love others. As you all surrounded us, I want to see the church surround others - no matter what their faith is. How cool would it be for others to really see Christ in us as we care for and love others - compassion is action. That is what Jesus called us to and what Paul tried to help us to understand.

God continues to build me in that direction. I have been able to work for the US Census for a few more weeks than expected. I was rehired for two more operations. But that ended last week. So the income factor is a major concern and prayer. God seems to continue to provide just enough to make it each week.

We are getting ready to take Robbie back to Biola soon, Jensen will start Jr. High and Jake will be starting classes at Cabrillo College. Jake continues to struggle with some wound care issues on his heal and his back is continuing to hurt. We have a good handle on what he needs to do - basically strengthen his core muscles to make up for the missing and damaged muscles.

God is our refuge and strength,        an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
       and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
       and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
       the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
       God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
       he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD Almighty is with us;
       the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see the works of the LORD,
       the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
       he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
       he burns the shields with fire.
"Be still, and know that I am God;
       I will be exalted among the nations,
       I will be exalted in the earth."
The LORD Almighty is with us;
       the God of Jacob is our fortress
. (Ps 46)

Grace and peace

Tom (daddy)

Jake still owes me a post here. So keep looking for that!

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