Saturday, February 27, 2010

Vintage tomorrow...surgery Wednesday!

Tomorrow Jake and I are going to be a part of the services at Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz (www.vintagechruch.org). The entire service will be Josh Fox unfolding his new worship project for the church and he asked us to be a part of it as one of the songs was inspired by Jake's journey. Josh sent us and idea of the questions that he is going to ask us and some of the quotes from the blog that drew him into writing the song. Listening to the song (over and over again) and thinking about those blog entries drew me back into some moments in the hospital. The more I listen to this song...the more it draws me back into moments of struggle, moments of questions, moments of longing. Debbie listened to it when she went to the store today and said that it is

I am also amazed at how far we have come. This week feels a bit like an emergence - a huge step forward. Being able to be a part of this worship service is amazing timing to be right before Jake's (in all likelihood will be his last major) surgery. Yes Wednesday's surgery is still on - despite the plastic surgeon rescheduling his pre-op appointment twice now. In the hospital when Jake was going to have the surgery to remove the skull piece it was the neurosurgeon that was difficult to pin down - at least that is what the "plastic doctor" (I like saying that) told us. Now the "brain doctor" is dialed in and waiting for the "plastic doctor".

So we would be honored to have you pray with us for our time at Vintage tomorrow and that we continue to have smooth sailing through the surgery - allow nothing to set him back. Pray for wisdom for the doctors, peace and sanity for us as we wait and more than anything as Josh's song reminded me, that we would know the presence of God in each moment.

I have been reading through Luke - taking my time and reading and re-reading encounters that people are having with Jesus. I keep thinking about Luke talking to people and getting the information correct for Theophilus. I pictured him talking to Mary, Elizabeth and the disciples. Lately I was reading chapters at a time and now I am finding myself going back and forth seeing how Luke puts things together. Jesus radically attacked the behavior, hypocrisy, and sinfulness of the religious leaders. The heart of Christ was for the hurting...he did not say, "get your act together and then you will be healed." He said, "your faith has healed you, your sins are forgiven, now go and sin no more."

Sin no more...sin no more. Don't do what the religious leaders are doing with their condemning judgement and their unrealistic expectations - adding requirements for holiness that did not come from God. Focus first and foremost on the presence of God and allow that to shape your behavior into helping those around you. "What is the greatest commandment, Jesus?" "Love the Lord your God with everything you have - your heart, your soul, your mind, your behavior. And love those around you. Help the hurting. Respond to those in need. See (with the eyes of God) those around you."

We have an opportunity to BE Christ to others - to bring the presence of God to them. My prayer continues to be that we all would be instruments of hope and healing to those around us.

Hope and peace in abundance,

Tom (daddy)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

True Community: increasing understanding

Jake and I had an amazing morning meeting with Josh Fox, the lead pastor at Vintage Faith Church. Josh just finished a worship album and this Sunday will be sharing that album with the church. One of the songs that he wrote was inspired by Jacob's Journey. It was written from his heart, in the midst of tears, in a moment of understanding the pain and suffering that we were going through. Josh asked us to be a part of the services this Sunday and share a part of the story as he shares this song. Service times are 9:00 am, 11:00 am, and 7:00 pm. (see www.vintagechurch.org) So many of you have been a part of this story and I feel like this will be an amazing time of coming into the presence of God and celebrate. Josh shares our heart that those who are hurting might find healing. We are finding more and more that this healing is found in the midst of true community - it is what we have and continue to experience.

In looking at a building we make assumptions as to what is going on inside. What we see on the outside is observable and verifiable according to our point of view. From where I am sitting right now in a coffee shop I am looking at what looks like a house. Chimney, roofline, windows etc. It was designed for people to see it as a home and yet there is an "open" sign in the window and banner for it's "pie sale". What is on the inside is right now is subject to my expectations, experience, assumptions and beliefs. It may look like a a home but I do not have to knock before entering; I need to pay for whatever I ask them to serve me; and I am expected to tip those who serve me.

We do the same thing with people. It is the same with our opinions about what is proper and what is improper. We carry with us judgements and evaluations about what is right and wrong based. The attitude that we bring can and does shape our response. So often we need to find a cause, a pattern, a reason for why. We want to make sense of things but so often we do this from the outside safety place and not from the inside place of understanding. Going inside makes us vulnerable.

As I try to step toward what is next for career-income-ministry, I deeply desire to step into a place of helping those in tragedy - to walk alongside those hurting and help their community to surround them, not forget them, carry them through their time of trial. As I was speaking with some hospital chaplains I was struck but the necessity to step into the the life of the person leaving judgement outside the door. Whatever wisdom I may have comes from my learning, my experience, my goals. This does not mean that they need, want or desire MY wisdom. So often we want to impose our wisdom and yet our first and best step should be understanding. As we understand and build relationship and trust we are in a position to truly love the person and support them as Christ does.

Issues that we face in life are never black and white - there is always some shade of gray. If we are going to be a community that surrounds others - if I am going to be a person that comes alongside those that are  in trial, the practice of understanding. When Jesus encountered people, he was able to see the outside and the heart. He knew what was being whispered and what was being thought. He knew the heart of the widow that gave pennies in humility and the wealthy that gave a large sum with arrogance announcing to all around how great he was. We may not have that ability but as we spend time understanding, caring, walking with them - we can show that we care and direct them to the God who does know all.

For those following Erica: the reports that I am getting are that familiar and frustrating roller coaster ride. A stable night followed by almost losing her and then back to stability. We continue to hold this family and her community up in prayer before God who knows her name and loves her. In the midst of His will we call for healing.

Grace and peace,

Tom (daddy)

"Wisdom is proved right by her children." - Jesus

Monday, February 22, 2010

Centurion, widow, servant, son

Jesus was amazed by the faith of a Roman Centurion. The people who came on his behalf felt that he deserved Jesus's attention because he loved the Jewish people and built the synagogue. "So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well."

Humility and faith came together in the heart of this centurion and that is what amazed God not the activity but the heart. He recognized the authority of one that he only knew by reputation. 
Jesus gave a widow back her son. "Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry." Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people." This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country."

Luke was putting together this story not to tell about the son, the widow, the centurion, the servant but to talk about Jesus and the impact on these communities as they were filled with awe and praised God. Jesus was defying the religious leaders of the day - the ones who should have been leading the people to the face of God were misleading them to focus on traditions and adding to laws, placing unnecessary burdens on them. They were missing it but the centurion got it. The widow received it. Can you imagine the impact on these households? This servant says, "I was dying." This son says, "I was dead". We have seen the hand of God - been ushered in to see the face of God. The Kingdom of God is at Hand. 


These verses from Luke 7 remind me as we approach Jake's next ("last major") surgery that we have seen the hand of God - been ushered in to see the face of God. And we continue to see it in big ways and in little ways. Today for me was a meeting with a man reminded me that all we have gone through continues to shape and direct where we are going - what we are doing. 


It has been 8 months since Jacob's accident. 8 months - wow. It is the first time that we have had to wait like this for a surgery. So thankful that we are so near to this date. Please continue to pray for a clean bill of health as we go tomorrow for all of his pre-op lab work. Please pray that we would continue to surrender our burden's to Christ and trust that He is fully in control - and fully present through this all. 




Peace and hope, 


Tom (daddy) 


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Erica update: 
Friends,  
We are now a week into this nightmare. We have 7 more days of antibiotics and are hopeful that her heart and lungs are strong enough to hold on that long on an oscillator. Dialysis appears to be helping as she still receives transfusions but her platelets are up. She developed a secondary infection which they expect when you have so many tubes. The antibiotics for this new infection also appear to be working as her white blood count is dropping again. She tried to open her eyes today and we saw tears running down her face so we have so much hope that with your prayers and her tenacity she will make one more week. Thank you all for keeping us in your prayers and for donations you have made to help Erica. 
Our love, Eric and Bernadette