Saturday, January 23, 2010

a little celebrating is due

Good - make that GREAT news. I had a telephone conference yesterday with the doctor who is monitoring Jacob's infection and antibiotic levels. It has been decided that Jacob can come off of the antibiotic after this dosage which ends on Monday. This to me is huge and to be wildly celebrated for a couple of reasons.
    #1 - the doctor said that he can have his pic line removed. The antibiotic has been given through a slow drip bottle twice a day over a 2-3 hour period. So Jake has to function with a bottle and tube hooked up to his left arm. He got use to it but it is awkward and one more thing to deal with.
   #2 - his thumb graft is taking. That last bit (10%) that we have been watching is healing and covering the bone.
   #3 - we can move forward with Jake's head surgery. He needs to be infection free before the composite (not metal) plate can be put in his head. He has been infection free for at least 2 weeks now. I called the surgeon to get the ball rolling on his pre-op appointment as soon as I hung up with the infection doctor.

It feels so good for me to move forward with some good news. Jake is missing his friends, missing working at Freeline, missing driving a car, etc etc. He wants freedom and this is a step toward a bit more independence.

More to share as things transpire this week. But I just wanted you to join us in this celebration.

Love and peace in abundance,

Tom (daddy)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Robbie's Journey"...?

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that the title of this blog, "Jacob's Journey," is misleading. Granted that the things that I, my dad and mom have posted here are inextricably tied to Jacob's Journey, it still remains that Jacob, from the day he found consciousness again, has been going through his own emotions, thoughts, angers, fears, etc. And that is something that we could never fully articulate here. This summer, my family and I were quite transparent about our journey as we waited by Jacob's hospital bed, and it is a challenge to find where the boundaries of that transparency should now be given that Jacob is not the same as I am or as my dad is or my mom.

That said, it has been a while since I last posted! I have been very unsure as to what I should post - do I keep posting my own thoughts and leave Jacob completely out of it? Do I need to make sure I have an update about Jake in the midst of one of my posts? I am still considering starting another blog. Regardless, I felt a prompting this morning just to re-connect with our blog community; so consider this a re-introduction. My heart prompts me to continue posting - to continue to be connected with the network of love and support that is around my family and will continue to be.

I have been home from Biola for almost the whole month of January... I go back this next week. It has been a huge blessing to spend time with my brother... to just be two brother's together again (plus Jensen, of course). To make fun of my parents together (to an extent). To watch movies and talk and make jokes about Nicholas Cage and Dennis Quaid. But there is another part of me that is still so uncertain, so unsure, wrapped in despair. It can be put this way: On June 28th, I also received an injury, and it still hurts. Every now and then I hear a re-telling of the night of Jacob's accident... I hear the story from a different perspective, or hear a new added detail, or feel some reminder of the horrors of the summer, and I feel this pang of sorrow in my gut.

If you haven't yet, I encourage you to check out connorwatch.org. Connor Williamson had a severe accident over a year ago and has been paralyzed ever since. His dad, Eric, blogs (verb tense of the word "blog"). I commented on one of his blogs back on December 28th, and from that an interesting train of thought came up:

Eric:

I really appreciate this post by you. Whenever I have expressed these feelings, I always receive feedback by people that are astounded that I would feel that way; after all, my brother Jacob is alive, God spared his life... don't I have a lot to be grateful for? Shouldn't I stop questioning, doubting, mourning, and find joy and peace and worship God? I have come to find that joy is much much different than happiness, worship is so much more than singing happy songs, and that it all comes down to making a choice. What people do not seem to get is that the burden and grief is no longer from the potential loss of my brother, but from the continuing present hardship. This hardship takes the form of watching Jacob struggle internally, watching myself struggle internally, and not feeling God anywhere. A big question for me is: "OK, what's next?" Am I really going to live with more crap like this happening all around me, every day? That is depressing. That is aching. People talk a lot about trusting in God when life is tough. It seems easy enough, because it is usually defined by just changing your attitude. I agree with you, that this does not seem to be the extent of it. Faith is not just a mental decision; it is somehow acted out every moment of every day, in the little ways and the big ways that you act. But, people don't often talk about how you trust God when you don't trust him. How do I hold on when I have no faith? How is God there for me when I am spiritually destitute? When I feel emptied of any Spirit? People tend to define “The Holy Spirit" in terms of how they think God makes them feel. Again, I think it is so much more than that.


Ok, this is pretty thick, I know. I was going to go into another thought too, but I think I'll save it.

Basically, it all comes down to a choice. Because how are we supposed to trust God when we don't feel like trusting him? We can't just sit around and wait until we feel better about it. The Scriptures never determine which emotions a trusting human is supposed to feel, but we sadly begin to define "spirituality" as how we feel inside, typically our emotions. I think this is horribly wrong. Every person on the face of the earth (I'm generalizing here) has gone through the entire range of emotions whether or not they believe in God. We are promised joy from the hope that we have, but this does not mean that sorrow ceases to exist. Our "spirit" engages the whole of who we are. It is not some vague plane of higher existence where we can transcend the normal experience and feel better. Being a spiritual being means fully engaging with reality for what it really is. God came into this world as the Messiah, as a man, to prove this - that he cares about this world, he cares about our world, and he is willing to die in order to bring physical reality back into proper relation with his Spirit. After all, the ultimate Christian hope is not a post-mortem spiritual existence (going to heaven when you die). It is being ressurected in the new creation. God is going to redeem our world. We have a hope for perfection of our bodies, not ditching them for ethereal bliss (Surprised by Hope, by N.T. Wright, is an excellent source for this topic. I am guessing I will be posting more things about this book in the future, because it has been dominating my thoughts for quite some time).

Anyway... where was I... trusting God/loving God/following Christ is not a matter of "spiritual growth" in the sense that it is normally defined. It is not a matter of gradually feeling better about your personalized relationship with God. Rather, it is a holistic engagement with God's reality - his Kingdom - as heralded by Christ, as it is here among us, and as it will be perfectly in the future. Most of our metaphors in Christianity today define our connection to God as a "personal relationship." This can be important, but it is not the point. The point is that we acknowledge Christ's Lordship and become good stewards of the things he has entrusted to us, yes, personally, but most importantly in our communities - because you would not be who you are without the people around you. Individual choices that are manifested in communal activity.

Therefore, trusting God is not strictly an enterprise of the soul, defined in the "mental" sense. It has physical reality, manifestations of the Spirit of God with you. This is where discernment is used to see what is of the Spirit - in 1 John, it is said that the primary indicator of the Spirit is "love." Are we loving each other? Sure we can claim to love God... but how do we exhibit that in any way other than showing real, practical love to those around us?

This sounds incredibly vague and idealistic, which is the point - the lofty theological/philosophical assertions that we make will necessarily affect how we live every minute of our lives (if we take them seriously). Every action you perform throughout the day - every step taken, every word spoken, every interaction with someone - is spiritual. The way you act will show what you believe. So what do you believe?

-Rob (Jake's bro)

Forward Motion

I am sitting in a coffee house in Aptos. Jake and Debbie headed out to appointments. I dropped Jensen off at school and then headed down to meet with Jake's teacher. It has been quite a couple of weeks. Robbie had his wisdom teeth out and is recovering at home. Jake had to share the nurses for a little bit. Robbie heads out next week for school in LA. Boy will that be a shock to our family to have him gone again. What a blessing it has been for all of us to be together for over a month.

Though we are still in this eternal waiting period we are still in forward motion. Stronger and stronger day by day. Faith is measured less by leaps and bounds than in steps - sometimes the smallest of steps but it is still forward motion. There are times that the faith we hold on to is put to a test that requires leaps and bounds but these are also the times that we also use our hands to grip and grab and perhaps even crawl forward. The point is that we continue to move forward. As I have said before and hold onto, getting out of bed can be a step of faith.

One of the big things that God is teaching me lately is that I need to hold firmly to the vision/passion that he has placed within me. I need to move forward to pursue these confident that this is my call and that there is a reason he has brought me through all of these experiences (good and bad). That is so tied up in who I am and the hope that I have. I see this in each of my sons. My role is less about telling them what to do than in fanning the flame of who they are and who they are becoming. I was mourning a bit the other night thinking that we are out of the child stage - Jensen is now an emerging teen. While it is sad it is the growth that is exciting...staying the same or going backward is not what we are meant to do. It is exciting to watch and to come alongside as each of my sons find their own voice and their own call and their own passion. May I not get in the way.

And I do honestly get in the way. My fear and insecurity get in the way of who they are emerging to be. I say no far too often (Robbie imitates me quite well, shaking my head and jowls). My "no" is fear - all the more heightened by Jake's injury - of what might or could happen.

As we move each day closer to Jake's surgery, I pray that we would continue to move forward. That Jake's thumb would heal the last 10% and that the head surgery would come quickly - in God's timing of course - but a little sooner would be nice.

Peace and Hope,

Tom (Daddy)