Saturday, February 20, 2010

Jake is my reminder to pray for Erica...

Jake met with his teacher today at Aptos High. I had been meeting in place of Jacob but now I just sit in the background. It is a great progression and Jake is doing great. He has finished two semester-length classes and is now working through the two year-long courses. I am very confident about Jake finishing the year and graduating with his class. The internet-based courses have been perfect for Jake's situation. It feel so thankful. Especially as I think and pray for Erica's parents as they have just begun a journey that reminds me of where we have come, I realize that we are reaching a Summit. Even if Jake's appointment were to get put off a little longer - I really would be okay - I am seeing more and more of his healing.

Even after the head surgery, there will be recovery, there will be lessons in patience, there will be more to do and more to come. Jake's surgery does not bring back "normal" - whatever "normal" is - it is just a very big step forward. So a little thankfulness tonight for me as well as a burden for Erica and her parents  Erica and Bernadette. I have attached a note below - realize that I get them third person and pass them along. I have not met this family - but like so many who have done so for us, I hold them up to God and plead for healing, wholeness and the presence of God.


This message is directly from Bernadette. 

Dear Friends,
Again we can not express how much your love, support and especially prayers are appreciated. We want so much to say that things are better, so we will say that they aren't worse. The antibiotics have done their job and there is no progression of the disease. We are now faced with dealing with the damage. She is still on 24 hour dialysis, and we are simply waiting to see if her kidneys will pick up any function as we go. Her heart appears to be strong, they have reduced the number of medications or pressers for blood pressure from 4 to 2. She is still purple in the face and parts of her body due to the disease - her fingers look like they have some color and will survive. Her right foot is still questionable but her toes have already turned black and are shrinking. We are working hard to keep her from developing secondary infections as she is still not able to produce enough platelets. She is getting blood transfusions and platelets to try to heal her organs. Everyday we are here we are fortunate. They saved her life and continue to do so on an hourly basis. We are waiting to see if we can get into the Ronald Mcdonald house today that is here at the children's hospital. They wouldn't let us for a week because of the disease. We had to be a week with no symptoms. It doesn't matter as we wouldn't leave her anyway, but we thinking that God willing we will be here for awhile because the alternative is unimaginable. Please know that we are blessed to have so many people supporting us. It is at times such as this that you can see what faith and strength there is in being part of a family. Our sincere thanks-Bernadette and Eric

Erica is a freshman in college in New York. I pictured many times during Jacob's journey being surrounded by hundreds of people holding up my arms and praying with me, for me, and in place of me. I have that same picture now as I see the community surrounding Erica and her family - her community. It is a blessing and honor to be in prayer together.

In prayer

Tom (daddy) 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Erica is still fighting - praise God for stubborn 17 year old fighters!

I am trying to figure out how to best get this information to you on Erica: Facebook, Blog, whatever. Again I do not know Erica but Valerie who has been part of the Jacob's Journey Community has been keeping me in the loop. I have had a lot of people asking me of her status. She has overtaken my heart and prayers with what little I know. I know for me I can picture her parents, Erica and Bernadette, at her side going through what we have gone through. Here is the message that I got through Valerie...
The latest from Erica's parents:

"Eric and I (Bernadette) appreciate all your thoughts and prayers. What we know is this. Erica contracted Bacterial Meningitis-she was vaccinated in August however there are 5 strains and only 4 are covered. She has the 5th and worst strain. She felt ill on Wednesday evening, developed a fever Thursday, went to the campus nurse and received Advil. She slept all day. When she woke up Friday she "hurt" all over. We now know her organs were shutting down. She went to emergency room where she presented with purple face, legs and arms. The blood flow was cut off to extremities. The disease traveled through her blood stream damaging every organ before it could be halted. Short term we are fighting to save her life. She remains on a oscillator as the respirator was not strong enough. She is on constant dialysis to attempt to restabalize blood and do what her kidneys can not. Every day she remains alive we are hopeful of some recovery. If we can get to that point we will face kidney transplant and amputation of digits and possibly an entire foot. We will cross that bridge when it comes. My parents are home helping with Angela and contact them daily. Erica is stubborn and strong in spirit. We remain with her for 22 hours a day encouraging her to fight. Again, we appreciate all of your love and friendship. We pray God will guide all of your positive prayers to help our baby. May God Bless you all.

Eric and Bernadette
Surrounding Erica's journey with the arms of prayer.

Tom (daddy)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Urgent Prayer for Erica

I just received this update...

Erica has a 10% chance to make it through the night. Her liver has shut down. Her lungs are struggle due to the respirator. Her heart is strong. The Priests has come to preform the final blessing. She is young and strong! I know she can beat the odds! Lord hear our prayers!

This cloud O Lord hangs over my soul 
the cloud is so thick God, that I cannot see a thing
this does not make any sense to me
so young, so fragile, so much life yet to give

Lord take Erica in your arms holding her close
heal this child, hear our plea, hear our cry 
give her back to the arms of her parents
restore this life, restore this soul, make her whole

Let comfort, let peace, let hope surround her
faith is not for those who are weak but for the strong
yet in this moment we know our weakness, our limits
where our faith ends let hope begin through your grace

Lord the cry of our heart is for you to restore
The cry of your heart is for us to be restored
let your breath breathe out on this child 
let your beauty, your majesty be seen tonight 

Remove the cloud redeem this moment 
We approach your throne - not for ourselves
not for our glory but for the life of a child
that you may be given all the glory


pray with urgency, frequency, transparency

Tom (jacob's daddy) 

Praying for Erica: Rob's Musings

Every time that the Jacob's Journey community is confronted with a new tragedy, though it is a blessing to pray and see the Lord work, my heart sits a little heavier in my chest; but I'm not so sure that it is a bad thing. A heavy heart opens us up to others, to suffering with people, which is so central to being carriers of the Gospel.

Like many have been, I was hit hard with this news of Erica, a 17-year-old college girl, who I don't even know. Why, God? Why 17? Why lethal infection? Why 2 days to live? Why not at a point in her life where she could have been more settled, with her parents, not in the hectic atmosphere of adjusting to a new school? Why not me? Why not some other time?

Why, why, why, why.... we can sit all day and ask why. We can come from a comfortable posture of sheltered Christianity, where joy is misconstrued into happy thoughts and nice things, where the austere, metaphysical God of Western philosophy/theology is in control, therefore causes all things to happen, therefore he caused this seemingly bad thing to happen... therefore everything is OK. Or we can admit that evil exists in the world.

The fact is this: June 28th, 2009 was, in my estimation, an evil day. Not to say that it will not in the future be a day where we can celebrate what God has done. But there is no use saying that this day in my life was a good day with a good ending, because it was an evil day with a bad ending. Before the Resurrection, Christ died. "Good Friday" really wasn't so good, was it? The promised Saviour, God's anointed, Yahweh incarnate, died a horrific death. That is tragic. Traumatic. Scars remain. But this evil becomes a signpost, pointing to the goodness that God has in store. Awhile back, my dad said to Jacob: "It could have been much worse." Jacob replied, "Yea, but it also could have been better."

There is no use sitting around musing about what could have been. Evil occurs - it causes us to distrust, disbelieve, wear out, get exhausted... but in that place, I hear the cry of the centurion in Mark Chapter 9: "I believe; help my unbelief!" God does overcome. We must believe in the power of Resurrection. There will not only be glimpses of restoration in this life, but we will experience The Restoration in the future.

So what can I, sitting on my couch in Orange County, having never met this girl Erica with the fatal infection, knowing nothing about her, do? What can any of us do in those moments when evil overcomes, when we are powerless? When we get that phone call... a cancerous friend... a homeless stranger... an insane car accident... a diving accident at camp... an electrocuted brother... when death hits someone close... when abuse runs rampant... when a friend doesn't get it.... What can we do? Like the Israelites, we cry out.

This idea of crying out is not as simple as it sounds or feels. On one level, it is an utter trust in God when you are helpless. It is prayer that does not come out in words, but comes out in this groaning that blends the tragedy of the specific circumstance with the pure shock of seeing a tangible manifestation of the greater evil that exists among us. It comes down to trust - that God would not just stop the pain, but that he would do something grand out of this.

But there is also another layer... and it comes down to us. Yes, we cry out to God, but that does not mean that we are passive in the situation. At the creation of all things, God gave a commission to Adam and Eve: "fill the earth. SUBDUE it." Essentially, he gave them responsibility and ownership. After Jesus' resurrection, he gave a similar commission: "Go and make disciples." Followers of Christ do not have a minor part in the building of the Kingdom - they have a major hand. I say this just to convey the idea that "we are not passive". Yes God works in amazing ways, but he frequently chooses us as active parts in that way.

So back to the question: what can we do?
Pray. Similar to the "crying out" - groaning to God on another's behalf.
Believe that the Spirit can divinely heal. Stories similar to those of healing that happened in Jesus' time have not stopped. Pray that people in need would be surrounded by others who are tuned into this healing (I, for one, am not. I'm very skeptical in this matter)
Look around us. In the case of Erica, I have absolutely no direct hand in the matter. But if I did, I would be looking for tangible needs of the family. In the same manner, I look for those needs around me. In our day to day lives, it is not normally the case that extreme things like this happens. As my boss said at the beginning of this school year, it comes down to "little choices." We say that we would take a bullet for someone. But will we every have the opportunity to show that extreme devotion? Most likely not. Therefore, we must show it in little ways.

In sum, we can't just sit around waiting for God to do something or speak more clearly. We are given the ability to discern and make decisions. Therefore we seek to control what we can. How do we choose to react to situations? How do I respond, with my attitude, thoughts, actions, etc.

I could not trust a God who wants to make bad things happen so that I can grow or learn a lesson. That is sadistic. But I do trust a God who trusts me to make the best of what I am given. The decisions we make can have grand implications, but are normally manifested in little everyday things. "I will help jumpstart your car." "I will listen to you - really listen." "I will encourage someone out of the blue today." Little choices prep us for those major ones. I do not doubt that Erica's family will begin to see the little things in their life that prepared them and led up to this major shift. May our prayers for them and others be sufficient to saturate them in God's presence, may our prayers be carried out by real people surrounding them, and may the attitude of our prayers be carried out in every little decision that we make.

Dangit, that sounds really challenging!

Rob (Jake's bro)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Praying for Erica

I have sat down to write a few times over the last few days, but just was not feeling it - when I figure out what "it" is I will let you know. There is a lot going through my head and it is hard to get a handle on it. 

Jake is doing great. School is going well. He has finished 2 of his four classes. I am very confident that he will get done and graduate with his class. He is also getting stronger in his rehab. He still has limitations - mainly with his right arm and hand - but he is getting quite strong. It is actually getting hard for me to think about allowing him to move forward. You raise a child and move him to adulthood slowly. We have stepped backwards and are going to be moving forward with a bit of turbo.  Much harder for us than for him. 

I woke up this morning to a message through Facebook about a young 17 year girl named Erica that was suffering from "septic". I did not know it was anything but a tank underground for receiving our flushings. Erica had been given two days to life and mom and dad were rushing to their daughter's side (at college). A little later in the day I got an update with a change in diagnosis to "bacterial meningitis." That was it for the details - I do not need to know more - but it tugged at my heart to pray and to send on what information I had. 

For me it my thoughts went to the parents receiving the phone call as we had received one about their 17-yeard old being in harms way. What a devastating plane ride - clinging to each other - waiting longing to be with their child. Then arriving at the hospital trying to catch up and understand all that had been taking place - all that was wrong. I have never met them but that is okay - I can pray - and I got several messages from others who were praying as well. We all need a community to surround us - to helps us - guide us through the mess of a tragedy. 

There was also a message today on Facebook from a friend I have not seen in a long time. She had lost her teenage son 25 years ago. She and her husband have always been heros to me. All the more as we went through Jacob's fragile time. There are saints that have gone before who have clung to the feet of Jesus, weeping dreadful bitter tears but continue to know the presence of God in increasing measure. I remember thinking of Dale and Charlotte, still walking with Jesus, still serving in ministry, not giving up - we will make it too. 

When Abraham was called out by God and sent to be a nation, he was blessed to be a blessing for others. (Gen 12) He was not blessed so that he would live a life of luxury and ease. He was not set up with a health plan and retirement fund. He was blessed so that he might bless others. 

As we anticipate Jakes next major surgery, though I know it is not the end and there will be more to come - overcoming limitations, further surgeries, learning and re-learning how to do things - it totally feels like we are coming to the summit of this journey. So as you have joined us and continue to pray...continue to lift up Jake and for the steps we have to come. But also I ask that you continue to lift up and bless those around us that need their community (our community). 

In grace and peace