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The Life and Times of Jon Graves
Thursday, May 01, 2008
One year ago
I hadn't planned to post tonight. I'm finalizing the design for Jeseca's (and my) headstone, otherwise known as a marker. Thumbing through Jeseca's journals for a quote I might use, I came across the following entry dated May 1, 2007:
"Hello Lord, my King and Savior. I lay at your feet, feeling so done, so tired. Wishing that I could stay in bed all day, I instead push myself to get up, make breakfast for those boys, do school and try to make it through dinner...sometimes in too much pain to bear. I am too weak now to do much, and my poor sweetie has had to take over things like laundry, dishes, etc., even while he is burdened with work and his dad's business. He gets up at 4:45 every morning to work out and study the Bible, and then stays up until I go to bed around 10 or 11. He is such a good man; thank you, Lord.
"Even now I am getting too tired to write, but I want to thank you for speaking through Christian to me tonight. I was telling him and Everen how it may get to the point where I am in bed all the time, but to always trust and believe that God will heal me. Christian replied, "It's like you're going to take a snoozy-poo (nap) while God's healing you!" Thank you, Lord, for letting me know it's okay to rest and be sick. You are still healing me!"
There's a TobyMac song titled, "I'm For You" that I used to sing to Jes. I thought of it as my anthem to her. I was wrong. It was her anthem to me and the boys. I've never seen such faith or love. Lord, make me like that. Like you. JG
Boy, the passing of time never slows down, does it? It is 100% consistent. The sun comes up and goes down, right on time, every day, just as God said it would.
When Jeseca passed away holding my hand in the hospital, all I wanted was for God to stop the clock; to stop the world from spinning -- just for a day -- so I could stop and think. But He didn't. Instead, just moments after I watched her vital signs all fall to zero, I had to decide how our boys would say goodbye......if they would at all. Half a dozen nurses, doctors and social workers were flooding in and out of the room as I sat there in disbelief, and it was all I could do to keep from locking the door behind them when they left. I did ask for a few minutes to myself, which they politely gave. And in those five minutes of prayer, I realized the emotion and anquish with which Job must have praised the Lord after hearing that he had just lost everything. I imagine he gritted his teeth, forcing himself to say those famous words, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." That's what I did......every word true, and yet every syllable so difficult to say.
Here we are, five weeks later, and I thank God for His amazing consistency, and for not stopping the clock. Many, many things have transpired over these past five weeks, and all of them have helped to bring about at least a sense of healing for me and the boys. I had a most unique "I love you" from the Lord on the golf course. I've watched two amazing young women open the doors to my boys' hearts and minds in their respective classrooms (Thank you, Ali and Jamie). And I've had the opportunity to read through the many journal entries Jeseca and I wrote over the past four years.
What I can say now (and I will look for more opportunities to do so in the future), is that God is incredibly wonderful, and that Jeseca knew Him more deeply than anyone I have ever met. I am in the process of transcribing her journals (a project I have titled, "Beautiful Journey"), and am fairly confident you will feel the same way after reading them. Quite honestly, I never knew such a relationship could exist between one person and the creator of the universe. And I yearn for it in my own life now more than ever.
As for the boys, they are both doing well. We've started to do two new things here at home. First, every morning on the way to school I ask the boys to listen for God's still, small voice. We bought a journal specifically to write down what we believe God is saying to us on a daily basis. Jesus said, "My sheep know my voice..." I want them to start listening so that they will never confuse His voice with anyone else's.
Second, we have a weekly "Family Music Night," where I turn on a sampling of some of the finest classical music pieces by Dvorak, Beethoven, Mozart and others, and just speak quietly to the boys on the couch. Christian lies down in my lap, while Everen (the most restless kid I have ever met) grabs a pillow and blanket and does his very best to figure out how not to be quiet and listen. Eventually he calms down (usually after Christian falls asleep), and we end up talking about his mom and how much she loved and cherished the time she was able to spend with them. It is a sweet, sweet time that God has given us together. And I pray that we (the 3GBs) will follow in Jeseca's footsteps on that Beautiful Journey to the gates of Heaven. We all should. Lord, help us to open our mouths and take as many people with us as we can.
A few days ago, someone from my son's karate class approached me to give me her condolences, and to tell me how special and strong our family is in the midst of this. She mentioned that Everen was smiling and working so hard, and told me how lucky we are. I told her it was God, and the amazing job that Jeseca did in revealing the Kingdom of Heaven and the hope we have in Jesus to our boys. And that was it. She walked away offering her help in any way and said goodbye.
But the seed that God comforts -- even in the worst of times -- had been planted.
When people see us now, they see strength; but it is God's strength in our time of weakness, not our own. And He wants to be there for them, too, when they experience their own heartache and pain. He is always there, knocking on the door of your heart, waiting for you to cast your cares on Him and rest.
This new reality -- life without my best friend and true love -- continues to reveal itself slowly every day. It comes in the middle of all of the tasks now before me, and I can't help but wonder when the pain that rests somewhere deep within my heart will come to the surface. It is such a blessing, though, to know that the work Jeseca did is still paying dividends. It always will.
Many things have changed for me. First and foremost is that I am more in love with Jeseca now than I was before. She endured so much for the boys and me, and she did it all out of love. So I have purposed in my heart to continue what she started. Believe me when I tell you that she started a lot.
This website will change, as will hers. And I trust that God's hand of blessing will be upon me as I strive to know Him more, and to honor my one and only love in this life -- my extraordinary wife, Jeseca. Please stay tuned...JG
With the rush to get everything prepared for Jeseca's service and burial now behind me, I've had a couple of days to contemplate all that my life has come to be, and how it has led to this moment in time. (Sigh)........ Jeseca's passing has left a hole in my heart that only Jesus can fill, and I have cried out to Him many, many times since August 15 to do just that. So much has changed. What is this task ahead of me that has required my two great loves (Jeseca and baseball) to be ripped from my heart?
On the day that Jeseca died, I drove away from Scripps La Jolla without her for the very first time. We'd been there so many times over the past few years. I was lucky enough to stand by her side for each and every treatment. Chemotherapy, radiation, scans, tests, surgeries, checkups, etc. It was always us together, exactly as we liked it. And she always came home with me. But not this time.
Why? What changed? I only know of one thing......I prayed differently that morning.
Each time we went to the hospital together I prayed for God's hand to be with the doctors, to guide them, give them wisdom and understanding when dealing with Jes. It was always the same. But that Wednesday morning I stopped myself halfway through the prayer and told God, instead, that I trusted Him to do what He knew was right. "We have been down this road for far too long to pray in panic. So I will trust that whatever happens today will be what you want, and we will deal with whatever happens according to our understanding of you...that you are a loving, all-powerful God with our best interest at heart."
Little did I know that I would kiss her goodbye for the last time just three hours later. (The time at the hospital was a blur, and a story well worth telling, but not now.)
Did I pray wrong? No, I don't think so. I think God had been waiting for me to let go. He had perfected His work in her; now it was time to work on me.
And now, like I said earlier, everything has changed.
Gone are the aspirations; the dreams of grandeur. They don't matter anymore. My boys need me to carry on the dreams and legacy that Jes left behind...to raise them to be mighty, Godly men; lights in this world of darkness. And I want to show them that there is still such a thing as true love.
I have such wonderful memories of Jeseca. Times of great joy and excitement; of shared dreams, both personal and professional; of hardship and trial; of true contentment in our love; and of the amazing woman she became in our 11 years together. I am so proud of her. She made it. She endured so much more than she let on, and she did it all with a smile on her face.
And I am so proud of the couple we were. We did it right. We did it right, sweetheart.
Jeseca's Memorial Service will be on Wednesday, August 22 at 4:00 p.m., at Serra Mesa Christian Fellowship. (http://www.smcftoday.com/?subpages/How-To-Get-to-SMCF.shtml). I miss her so terribly. But I am incredibly proud of her and the job she did in raising our boys to love the Lord. It is her influence, her reflection of Jesus, and her undying love for them that is carrying them through this time of utter sorrow for me. Jesus, thank you for your faithfulness.
For anyone interested, in lieu of flowers we are requesting that donations be made to the Jeseca Graves Memorial Fund at 2240 Bolinas Street, San Diego, CA, 92107.
Here is a link to her tribute in today's Union Tribune:
It's been more than a month...nearly two, in fact...since I last had the chance to post here. I've thought about it many times, but have become so busy with the day tasks and the night hours at the airport... Alas, here I am again.
The time between my last post and tonight's has brought Jes and me perspective on quite a number of things, not the least of which is God's overwhelming grace and love. Many, many times over the past year I have wondered what I might happen upon after spending time away from the house, even after an hour or so at the grocery store. Walking up our sidewalk to the front door I would hear thoughts like, "You're too late. You should never have left. She's dead." (You know, the happy thoughts.) Each time I put the key in the door and peeked in, I couldn't help but wonder if any of that were true. After all, the doctors have told me time and time again that I should prepare myself for it because it's coming. Yet every time I open the door and glance in, I witness God's amazing grace as she lays asleep on the couch or busies herself during the day. It sounds trite, but every day is an absolute miracle in our house, and I don't believe that will change any time soon.
Just this week, we were at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla for Jes to have a procedure done. (To serve as background, as time has passed, and as her liver has grown to more than 3 times the size of a normal liver -- at least two-thirds is tumor -- her stomach has been cramped and she has not been able to eat as much as her body requires. Consequently, she lacks the protein needed for her cells to retain water, and has thus obtained an incredible amount of adema throughout her body. The procedure helped to relieve some of the swelling.) When the procedure was completed, I began the jaunt outside to get the car and take her home. While I walked, God opened my eyes a bit to see the bigger picture He is creating...that Jeseca's story is unique in the medical field, and that He will use that at some point to His glory. It's an odd thing to walk out of the hospital with hope after a loved one has undergone a procedure to relieve symptoms of what we are told is a hopeless cause. But that's exactly what I had as I walked to the car. God had given me a new reason to hope. He always does.
There is so much more to say, but I'm tired and will have to save all of it for another day (soon). What I can leave you with is the knowledge that God is a good God. No one can tell me that He isn't real; He makes sure I know every time I open our front door. Believe me when I say He is in complete control of the situation. There is no other way to explain why Jeseca is still here, and not only here, but here with a smile and the desire to do a great number of things for the God who has continually held her up. God really is good. JG
Quite a bit has changed since I last posted here, not the least of which has been the addition of a four-person hospice team...
I have to admit that I don't really know what else to say anymore. Jeseca's health continues to worsen and all I can do is pray about it. I just cry out for God's mercy. What more can I possibly do?
This evening, after going in to do some work at the airport, I headed for Harbor Island at 1:00 a.m. to spend some one-on-one time with the Lord. It couldn't have been more peaceful, with the nearly full moon's light glimmering off of the calm bay waters. I sat there on an empty park bench and poured what's left of my heart out to God. I know He was listening, but I don't know that I heard any response. Just.......well, just peace.
A week ago, Jes mentioned how painful it is to cough now. The growth in her chest (what causes her cough) has either grown into her sternum or is burrowing beneath it. It's also painful to the touch. The doctor says don't touch it. (Makes sense.) But as she sleeps, she coughs. And three nights ago, while she nearly cried her way through a coughing fit, I found myself pleading with God to take her. I couldn't take it anymore and wanted God to end her suffering. And I understood for the first time in my life why people sought out Dr. Kevorkian's "help." (No, we would never, never do such a thing.)
When I got home tonight, I read through Romans 9. Verses 14-16 say, "What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.' It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy." I wonder what that's supposed to mean...
You know, I come back to this almost every time I ponder what's happening -- that God remains in control, and that my very best will never be good enough to save Jeseca from death. As Romans 9 articulates, it's all up to God and has nothing to do with me. Sometimes that's enough. Sometimes not. In the end, though, I still find myself staring back up into the heavens, waiting on the Lord to make his next call. And while I do that, I pray that my beautiful wife sleeps peacefully through the night. Lord, please be merciful. JG
I make it a point to do something special with Jes each year on our anniversary. In years past we've visited Maui, Lake Tahoe, Vail, Laguna Beach, Palm Springs, etc, and always in the finest accomodations we could afford. This year I thought we'd stay a few nights at L'Auberge Del Mar Resort & Spa. Jes thought otherwise, and we found ourselves at the charming Butterfield Bed & Breakfast in Julian, CA. It turned out to be the ideal place to go on a day when we needed the utmost privacy.
The day started out with a great breakfast served by the owners of the place. Immediately following, we went back to our suite and prayed, talked and cried for more than an hour. I told her that earlier in the morning, before breakfast, I spent some time talking to God about her, and why I needed her to stay. I learned a lot about myself in that conversation. As I listed all of my reasons, God was prodding me for more, almost as if He were saying, "Is that it?" He was telling me that I can love her more than I do now. I can.
We also decided to write down all of the things we want to do when she's better. Visioning, per se. It was good for us to look ahead to the good we expect to come. Shortly afterward, we took a drive through the countryside and admired the wild turkeys and deer roaming the nearby hills, then headed into town for lunch.
The afternoon came with two occasions when Jes couldn't breathe while trying to sleep, and we both wondered if her time here was over. I can only guess that it was all of the prayer offered on our behalf that kept her going. And without a doubt, had we gone to L'Auberge, we would never have had the intimate moments spent together in the car talking about the life we have led as a married couple. She's always right...Julian was the right place to go...where we could meet God on the mountain.
We're home now. I must admit I hoped everything would change yesterday; that I would wake up today and see Jes as she used to be. That she would be able to sleep without gasping for air every two minutes. That her beautiful blue eyes would look the same again, and that her vision would not be so impaired. That she would have gained back the 30 pounds she's lost. And of course, that the cancer that has ravaged most of her body would no longer be visible.
Nothing has changed. In fact, I just had to pray for her heart to slow down so she can sleep. Does that mean anything other than that I still have to get on my knees and ask God for another day with her? It's an exercise in futility to try to figure God out, but how can I question Him? God says to me just as He said to Job, "Would you condemn me to justify yourself?"
I can't do that. I have asked Him for help in understanding why we must continue in this fight, but I just can't say that He is wrong. He knows best. What else is there to say?
So many of you have joined in our fight. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for praying with us on Saturday. Please know that we are praying for God to rain down His blessings upon you. That's the best and only way we know to repay you for your kindness, support, and prayers.
2 Corinthians 1:8-11 (NIV) "...We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many."
Last Thursday I spoke with the oncologist's office to get a better understanding of cachexia and how to deal with it. As I described Jeseca's condition, they confirmed that it was indeed cachexia, and began explaining the different stages and what we should expect next. The outlook is grim. They expect Jes to slip into a coma shortly, and then, when she can no longer eat anything......well, you know. We ordered a supplement that is supposed to lessen the effects of cachexia and are praying it helps (when we finally receive it -- it's been nearly two weeks).
Jeseca is just like me; she wants to know everything the doctors have to say. So we discussed it all Thursday and Friday night, trying to wrap our heads around everything; trying to understand what God is doing, what we have yet to do or plan for, and how we never imagined it would ever get to this point.
But it has. We're staring death in the face right now, and no man-made solution can make a difference. We're too far along in the game at this point. What we need is a "Wooo!" miracle. The stage is certainly set, and I will continue to hold to the hope we have and the promise we believe we have heard until God proves otherwise. And even then, if we have heard wrong, I trust that God will help me remain faithful to Him as I face a life without my very best friend and love, the mother of our two young men, my heart's eternal companion.
But I don't think we've heard wrong.
God is our strength and our shield, our comfort now. And He can do the impossible. The doctors have said that Jeseca will die soon. Those are the cards we hold now. But God is in our corner, and we're all-in. To God be the glory. JG
A few posts ago, I mentioned that I didn't know if Jes will make it to our 11th anniversary. While I plan to speak with our oncologist this week to discuss the latest development, that date is still in question.
Based on everything we see, and all that she is experiencing, she is now in a state of cancer cachexia. If you're interested, here are the details. I've read quite a bit about it at this point; none of it is encouraging. Essentially, her body is wasting away, and I hate it. We're looking for homeopathic solutions to help her maintain any amount of nutrition, but it's such a challenge for her to eat anything of real substance.
Our hope is that she will be able to put some weight back on, but as Jes has asked, will this just delay what God will do? I don't know anymore. When it seems like it can't get any worse, something else pops up to complicate things. I feel as if we're putting scotch tape on a dam that's about to break.
How long can she go on like this? Have we made any mistakes? Was there something we missed? Some other effort we should have made? Those are the questions we're dealing with right now, and honestly, I don't know that we have any good answers. We're just trying to survive, one day at a time.
... ... ... ... (long, long delay)
So here I sit. It's 1:23 a.m. and after all of the thoughts and concerns and questions above, somehow God has brought me back to understanding that He knows how this turns out, and that taking up His "yoke" is a lot easier than shouldering everything on my own. What more can I say?
Now I'm smiling. Amazing.
There it is. We will never give up. And we will never stop hoping and believing that what we see is only a portion, a slice of the reality God has yet to reveal to us. The rest is up to Him. (I bet there are chariots of fire on the mountain right now.) JG
The past week has been remarkable, as thousands of people have watched my plea for prayer. Many people have contacted me with their support and prayers, some have told me about their own experiences, and someone even told me to quit praying and live life out naturally without God, which I see as an opportunity for God to reveal Himself to him. Thanks to all of you who are continually holding us up in prayer. It has helped so much, and God has been faithful to give each of us peace.
Jeseca is still hanging in here. We went for a walk yesterday...one trip around the block was all she could muster, but what counted was that she got out and did it! I'm so proud of her.
I have quite a bit of work to handle these days, with homeschooling duties now turned over to me, work at the airport (which I do at the wee hours of the night/morning), and helping my father out with his business. Phew. Somehow God has enabled all of us to cope with this new style of life. I just hope it doesn't last for very long...I'm not nearly as capable as Jeseca.
And then, of course, there is this climactic prayer event on June 9. Jesus, please give me the words, your words, to pray over her.
I'll be brief tonight. I told someone recently that our story is incomplete; that we are missing the end of the story (what we hope will be a happy ending). We've documented, both in written form and on video, all of the ups and downs in this fight for Jeseca's life. I don't mean this to be melodramatic, but it appears we've reached the climax of the story; the point where you have to ask, "What will God do?" Our hope remains in Him, but He has to act quickly. She may not make it to June 9...
Well, it's about time I put something like this together, given the fact that I am a webmaster and understand the reach of the Internet. With less than a month before our 11th anniversary, I hope this video will reach the far corners of the earth, and that God will inspire thousands of people to join me in prayer for Jeseca's healing. Every significant milestone over the past several years has been marked with this battle against cancer. Why shouldn't it end on our anniversary?
If you read this, would you please "share" this video with your friends and family, your coworkers, pastors, etc.? The more people praying on June 9, the better. And trust me, we're getting down to the wire here, so we could use all the prayer support we can get right now.
There's nothing like the San Diego Zoo. This time was great, it was interesting, and it was a challenge all at the same time. Great because it was the zoo -- we love the zoo. It was interesting, of course, because we got to see some amazing animals. We stood five feet from a peacock -- who either felt threatened or was looking to impress someone -- as it displayed all of its feathers for us. How can anyone see such a display of beauty and believe in anything other than God and His amazing creativity?
I also pushed Jeseca around in a wheelchair for the first time. She doesn't have the energy to walk all over the park anymore, so we rented a "hotrod" at the front desk and wandered about. She actually said it was fun! The challenge? The boys thought it was cool and created a day filled with anguish over who should ride on mom's lap, who should ride when mom wanted to get out, who should push if dad wanted to ride, etc. (Dad didn't ride, just so you know.)
Life is becoming more complicated. And for a time, I am becoming more and more like "Mr. Mom."
I don't quite know what to say tonight. Sometimes I get caught up in the hope that God is going to heal Jes that I lose touch with what is really going on in the present. I continue to believe that God will heal her, but she continues to suffer.
It's no easy task to watch her go through all of this and know that I can't do anything about it. I can give her a back massage, but I can't make the pain in her lower back go away. I can pray for her to breathe each night, but I can't open up her windpipe or wipe away the tumors in her chest. I can help around the house so she doesn't have to do everything, but still she is fatigued. I can hold on to the hope we have in Jesus, but I can't speed up the process. It's tough.
I've talked so much about Jeseca's courage in the past; it remains remarkable to this day. She is absolutely amazing. She is positive even through the pain, telling everyone who asks that things are getting better. I honestly don't know that her condition matches her words, but how could I ever betray her feelings or doubt what she says is happening in her body?
I've contemplated putting together a video request for prayer for her. Nothing fancy (clearly), just a humble plea for help from anyone listening. I'll see what I can put together.
... ... ... ... (thinking)
In the face of all of this, God has proven Himself worthy of praise and worship. Since August of 2006, when we received the results of this PET Scan, we've lived with the understanding that, at least according to the doctors, Jeseca will die someday soon. Nine months later, she is still here teaching our boys about the grace and love of God, and we continue to plan for a future filled with crazy love, fun times and fantastic travel. That can only be credited to the hope we have in God, the faith He's given us for this period in our lives, and the extraordinary love He has for my wife.
... ... ... ...
I have labored away trying to find the right words tonight. As I've thought about everything, God has once again shown me that He is impossible to figure out, but He never fails to come through.
I know I will never understand the mysteries of God, but He is fully worth discovering. JG
Hebrews 10:23 says, "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful."
I'll post some pictures of Jeseca this week so you can see just how amazing it is that she is still alive. It can only be God. There is certainly no question in our minds that He is at work. And something great has begun to happen...the bowling ball in her liver has started to soften. In fact, as of today there is a small depression where there was once a peak. What we have hoped for may finally be happening! It's hard to tell for me since her eye has gotten so bad, but like Jeseca said today, "If God heals my liver, won't He also heal my eye?" That's our hope.
We watched Facing the Giants last night. What a great message. It's all about placing our hope in God, who does the impossible in the lives of people who trust Him. One of the scenes shows a pastor speaking with the team's head coach, delivering a message of hope at just the right time. The pastor later offered the following parable:
"There were two farmers who prayed for rain. The first prayed and waited for the rain to come. The second finished his prayer and immediately went out to till the field in preparation for the rain. Of the two, which one truly believed God would deliver? Which of these are you? Are you waiting for rain, or preparing for when it comes?"
Isn't that great? Which one are you? Which one am I? It really struck a cord within me.
Six years ago Jeseca and I attended a church service where we were challenged to pray and listen for an audible word from the Lord on the direction He wanted to take us. I walked away without so much as a "hello," but Jeseca had an actual conversation with God (within her), with details about a future trip for the two of us to Russia and Egypt in what she believes will be a dangerous mission to evangelize. We have held onto the idea of that trip ever since, knowing that God never lies. It has given us hope in some of our darkest hours.
The time has come, at least as I feel it in my heart, to begin "preparing for the rain." God has been training us to let go of this life, to not fear death. Maybe we're there, maybe not. Either way, we remain ever hopeful that our God will fulfill His promise and restore Jeseca's health.
Now, how my golf game factors into that sort of trip is beyond me. At its core, the trip will be about taking ground from the enemy, so I know we're going to come up against some danger. So while I'm tilling the field I'm gonna take some hard-core self-defense training...just in case. JG
I hope you don't mind my posting another video. We officially made our first movie tonight, Toy Story UFC. It's my youngest son's epic battle between Buzz Lightyear and Zurg. I know most of you come to hear about Jes, so I apologize if this is a bit out of sorts. Personally, we need something to laugh at right now. This is it.
Jeseca is doing alright. We're concerned that the cancer is spreading to her heart or left lung. I don't know how much more she can take. For now, she is still the most amazing, courageous woman on the planet. Father, how much more?
Here it is, very early Easter morning, and as I think about what we are celebrating today, I can't help but imagine how difficult it must have been for Jesus to endure all that He went through just for my sake. Amazing love...thank you, Lord.
Two nights ago, Jeseca awoke gasping for air in the middle of the night. It was exactly the same type of episode that sent us to the ER before. I sprang up and immediately started asking God for help and mercy. Then I started rebuking the enemy. Jeseca later told me she thought it was Satan trying to choke her to death. I don't doubt it.
This particular episode came just hours after we were encouraged by the account of a 30-year-old man who had to endure months of pain from cancer that the doctors told him would end his life. Just like Jeseca, this man (Mark, I believe) heard from God that he would be healed. While he was forced to go well beyond his comfort zone (the pain got pretty bad and he lost the use of one of his arms), God fully restored his health. We felt much better about our situation after reading Mark's story; just hours later we were praying for her life. I just can't stand the enemy!
Oh well. Today we celebrate the rising of our Lord and Savior from the dead. Who's the man?! Jesus!
January 2004. Jeseca had just begun treatment for what was diagnosed as the "most advanced localized case" of cancer the doctors at Scripps La Jolla had ever seen. What began in her tonsil had spread to 13 lymph nodes in her throat.
We had no idea the road would lead here, to this particular point in time when everything looks so dire, but we were sure that God was going to heal Jeseca. So I wrote the prologue to a book I knew we would write, our book, entitled "The Cancer that God Gave."
Now before you start critiquing the title, understand that we know God is a loving God who wants only the best for us. At the time, it really seemed like this had come from God. Not to bring Jeseca to the brink of death as she appears to be now, but instead, to get us on our knees and begin a greater transformation in our lives.
Does God inflict people with diseases or hardship? Who am I to say? The disciples asked Jesus once why a blind man was born blind. Was it because of his own sins or those of his father? Jesus said, "Neither." The man was born blind so that God could receive glory when Jesus healed him. On the other hand, Job was "sifted" because God allowed Satan to inflict damage on him and his household. In the end, it doesn't really matter as long as we understand that it is God who can bring us out of hardship. This is all about God, not us.
That brings me to tonight. Things look grim. Yet we still hold on to the promise we believe God has given us; that God will restore (raise) Jeseca from her "bed of illness." He will. He must.
So with that, I want to leave you with the prologue (as written three years ago) to the book we may now call "Surviving Cancer." At the time it seemed like a cool thing to do; now it seems like a reminder for me that we must always hold out for hope in our God.
Prologue (2004) We have a tradition on New Year's Eve. It's nothing flashy, nothing that would make the papers. But it is a tradition that has brought focus to each New Year as we have sought God's will in our lives. Every year, Jeseca and I get down on our knees and dedicate the last five minutes of the current year, and the first five minutes of the New Year to God, thanking Him for what He has done in our lives, and asking that His will be done in us even more than He had the year before. Since we began this tradition a few years ago, God has been faithful to provide for us, uplift us, strengthen us, and bless us with His love and grace.
As we have sought God's will in our lives, we have seen God answer many prayers -- prayers for restoration, for our family members' salvation, for financial security, for a deeper love of God. And with those answers to prayer come many blessings. But we have also been challenged with several trials.
Our first challenge came with news of our first child. Though he is the first of two of the greatest rewards we could ever have received from God, news of his expected arrival made both of us quake. We were young, inexperienced newlyweds still learning the basics in Christianity and had quite a time putting the idea of a new life for which we were ultimately responsible into proper perspective.
News of our second child was just as startling, but with three years of parenting experience and a greater relationship with the Lord, it was more a blessing than anything else.
Career choices, relocations, and the loss of nearly everything we have had are other examples of trials we have experienced -- but none has been as serious as that which we face now.
Webster's dictionary defines cancer as "a malignant tumor of potentially unlimited growth that expands locally by invasion and systemically by metastasis." The word "cancer" spoken in a room full of people brings a hush. So you can imagine our reaction when we first were informed of Jeseca's diagnosis in September of 2003: Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the tonsil, with metastases in thirteen lymph glands...Stage 4.
This book is the story of how we -- with the support of dozens of extraordinary people, countless prayers, and the love of an amazing God -- survived cancer.
Two nights ago we were invited to a night out with several other couples, a gig called "Red Hot Smokin' Date Night" that my cousin's put on to celebrate the group's marriages. Some of us were marriage mentors from The Rock, others were pastors of other churches, and a couple were either newlyweds or just about to get married. There was dinner, wine/sparkling ciders, dancing, and a message from my aunt and uncle who lead a marriage outreach ministry for couples in crisis. It was a great night together, not just for Jes and me, but for all of the couples.
One of the topics we discussed was the personality test used by Gary Smalley, which is based on the DISC analysis used in corporate America. Again, I turned out to be the dominant type; in this instance I came out to be the Lion -- aggressive, confident, yada yada ya. As my aunt put it, "Lions typically leave a trail of bloody Otters (fun, outgoing, no focus types) and Golden Retrievers (sympathetic, loyal, slow-moving, warm and fuzzy types)." I admit that's true. Thanks to the work God is doing in me, however, I believe I have cut the "trail" down to a handful along the road.
It was so nice to be out with Jeseca in a social situation. She is admittedly self-conscious about her appearance, but I don't care. She could go through the grinder and I would still think she's beautiful. I am empathetic, though, to how she must be feeling. The person she sees in the mirror is not the same person she's been all of her life.
One of the exercises of the night was to list 5 reasons why you fell in love, and 5 reasons you love your spouse now. When we first met, I loved her because she was beautiful, fun, exciting, and she was my best friend. Now, she is the most beautiful woman both inside and out, she is the most amazing woman of God, incredibly courageous, and she is still fun, exciting, and my best friend. God has transformed her into someone I never knew was there 11 years ago, and I am so proud to a be part of her life.
I also found out tonight that in addition to the tumors I already know about, another large growth has formed near what appears to be her right parotid gland (upper jaw near the ear). All I did was shake my head in amazement. The eye, jaw, throat, chest, lung, liver, etc. It's probably elsewhere, and it is a bit scary, but we have so much hope in the Lord.
Not much else to say except that we are beginning another week, and she is still here. God keeps putting distance between us and the night at the emergency room. Praise Him for that! JG
My mom told me today that God's grace is sufficient. I told her that Paul said that (actually, God said it to Paul when he asked to be healed three times), and as soon as the words left my lips I was released from a burden that has been on my shoulders for the past several months...that my prayers are ineffectual because Jeseca is not yet healed.
It was such a great moment. And it didn't just make me feel good. It gave me much needed insight into "healing" as we in America have come to know or expect it.
There are those who say you have to "claim" healing from God. Others say it is all about how much faith you have; if you don't have enough, you won't get it. Still others say if you just quote scripture over and over again, and demand that the ailment leave your body, it has to obey because the Word of God is all powerful. Simply said, I have been confused and fooled into believing that I just don't do it well enough or right, that my prayers are no good, and that's why Jeseca continues to suffer.
Then I thought about it. The apostle Paul, a man who healed many people and had unshakable faith due to his face-to-face encounter with the risen Jesus, did none of these things. He didn't command his "thorn" out of his side. He didn't "claim" his healing. And of all the people alive then, no one knew the scriptures better than he. Yet he had to ask God three times for healing, and the answer was always no, "My grace is sufficient."
Don't ask me why, but that gives me such peace. It's not on me. It's all up to God. And you know what? I knew it! Healing is all about God, and it always will be. Which leads me to my next point.
Jes and I talked about everything tonight. I hate it that she has to endure all of this. She loves it. (just kidding) But we've come to understand that this is a privilege, not a curse.
Did anyone listen to me when I tended bar in Temecula? Nope. When Jes waited tables at a golf course? Nope. Even when I was a professional baseball player? They couldn't have cared less, honestly. (I was a jerk anyway.) But this? This is real and our lives are in the balance. Yeah, people listen. So while we still have the opportunity, we want to reach as many people for Christ as we possibly can. We want to embrace it; not ask for God to take it away.
God will heal her when He's ready. Until then, it's all about taking ground from our enemy. No sweat; God is good, and I'm married to Wonder Woman. JG
Miles talked Sunday about being strong and courageous, as God told Joshua to be. That seems to be the theme of our lives right now. In light of what Jeseca continues to experience, we are still called to believe. God commands us to have a strong faith and courage to face the storm. We're sure trying. But we also realize that it's not by our might or strength, but by God's Spirit that we are able to endure. God, please help Jeseca to endure.
We watched a moment or two of the Academy Awards tonight...just enough to see Jennifer Hudson (hope that's correct) win for her role in Dreamgirls. Her first words were, "...Look what God can do!" Cool. It's really neat to see people in any walk of life who aren't afraid or ashamed to tell people about how great God is. It's inspiring.
The past week has seen a few bumps in the road. Last Sunday, our oldest son got sick with a fever that seemed never to go away. Days later, the fever was accompanied by a "barky" cough. He's just getting over it, but he unfortunately gave it to his younger brother, his dad, and now his mom. I can't complain, but that's the last thing Jeseca needs. All we can do is laugh and go to God for mercy.
God has been so good to us through this trial. The road has been hard and filled with unexpected turns, but God has been at the wheel. It seems like so long ago when we were coming home from the ER. The threat was (and is) so real. And yet, just as it says in the Bible, his yoke is light. He takes up our burdens and gives us peace in return. Frankly, I can't imagine going through such a trial as this without God. I don't know how people can cope without His peace. He is so amazing.
Each night I listen to Jeseca's heart beat as I embrace her in a hug. Her story is incredible: Her eye is bulging. The tumor in her liver has grown to nearly bowling ball size, making her look 4 months pregnant, and presses into her stomach and right lung. The activity in her chest still makes her cough. And there is still that little matter with the tumor in her throat. Yet I am brought to my knees in awe of Almighty God to hear her heart beat so perfectly.
Four months after we were married, Jeseca was in a car accident that should have killed her. Traveling about 50 mph in a newly purchased Nissan 300ZX (that was such a cool car), she was hit head-on by a drunk, off-duty fireman. The impact was so severe that it sent her car flying backward, in the air, 5 feet! The fireman was said to have been driving near 100 mph. But God was there in the car with her. She came away with bumps and bruises.
Now she battles cancer. But just as before, God has been here. He is here. And it appears it is His battle to fight. All we're doing is enduring the process, day by day. Which is why I have to laugh about all of us getting sick. At least I'm not in Job's shoes after all of the servants came to tell him the good news. JG
So much has happened in the last few days. Some friends of ours were, unbeknownst to us, calling around San Diego to set up a Valentine's Day date for us. As God would have it, they called Jeseca's favorite hotel in San Diego, the La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla, and ended up speaking with the general manager of the hotel, who proceeded to comp us a Saturday night stay in a suite that overlooked the ocean. An $800 suite! Thank you, Mr. Ullman, and thank you God! It was cool.
We also learned that my aunt and uncle got us San Diego Zoo passes for the year, which came just days after Jes and I discussed how great it would be to have passes again. Again, thanks God!
And last night Jes and I did a short spot for RockTV about what we are going through, how God has been faithful, and about our involvement in the Rock's marriage ministry. I hope we represented God appropriately. The spot focused mainly on Jeseca's fight against cancer and God's role in our lives; just another part of her story that we hope will reach more people for Christ.
Miles has been talking recently about how, as Christians, we are called to use our gifts and talents for His glory. We need to strive to use them well, not waste or bury them as the third servant did in the parable of the talents. It fits right in with what I've been reading for the past year. Beginning with the daily devotional Jes got me for Christmas in 2005, followed by Waking the Dead and Life Wide Open, God has been showing me that He cares deeply about what we do here on Earth, what I do, and that He has given me (and Jes) abilities that others don't have.
I told our oldest son a couple of weeks ago that his mom and dad are "Supers." His eyes lit up. It was such a neat conversation to have with him.
What I meant is that God has given us extraordinary talents. I have friends who don't know what they want to do in life; they don't have anything in their lives that would kill them if they had to give it up. Jes and I do. And we are doing all we can, even in the midst of this struggle, to use those talents to their fullest potential.
One more thing I want to share. When we returned from La Jolla two nights ago, Jeseca was really tired. In fact, she still is. The symptoms are getting harder to deal with and take their toll. That night we talked about it. She's tired of being sick, and I don't blame her. So after I prayed for her and she went to sleep, I silently cried out to God for help in understanding what He is going to do. Is she going to die, or is God going to heal her? What I see just doesn't match up with what we believe we have heard from God! So I closed my eyes and waited.......
I felt the urge to try to open up to the book of John, and in doing so, opened directly to Luke 4 and 5. The very first thing I read was the heading for the section, "Jesus Heals Many." Next was the story about Jesus rebuking the fever of Peter's mother-in-law; then how Jesus healed all who were brought to Him; then how Jesus called His first disciples; then how He healed the leper; then how He healed the paralytic. God was speaking to me, and the message was loud and clear. He will heal Jeseca.
I was blown away. I still am. I told Jeseca, too. At the very least it has given us more hope and faith that regardless what we see happening to her, there's a light at the end of this tunnel. Praise God for that.
Jeseca received an email from one of the nurses at her oncologist's office today. She's a friend and wanted to know how Jeseca's feeling. (We haven't yet told the office that we are going to bypass the trach and take our chances with God.) Rather than explain it, I thought it would be nice to have Jeseca speak for herself, as she did in her reply to the nurse.
Nurse: "Jeseca, we haven't seen or heard from you in a few days and are getting worried. We are praying for you and your family daily. Please let us know what is going on. Is your breathing any better? Is there anything I can do for you?"
Jeseca: "That is very sweet of you guys. I am doing great! I was in the ER for a day, as you know. After we got home we called an emergency prayer meeting for the next morning; 20 people crammed into our little house, all crying out to the Lord on my behalf, along with everybody else across the country -- and even Europe -- that have heard my story over the years. That night I slept better than I had in a month! And I am continuing to get better. It has even been easier to swallow lately! God is good. Please tell everybody that I am doing good and that I am still my old self. Stubborn and full of life!"
Believe me when I say that her last statement is true. To God be the glory. JG
Here we are beginning another week, and all I can say is that God is still walking beside us.
There's a song by Mercy Me that speaks about trials and how we need to "hold fast" to the promises of God in the midst of them. It begins, "To everyone who's hurting; to those who've had enough...please do not let go, I promise you there's hope. Hold fast, help is on the way; Hold fast, He's come to save the day." He's all we have to hold on to, and He's gotten us through each day since we returned from the ER last week. Thank God for His favor and mercy.
I'm sure it looks bad from the outside, but we still have hope in God; in Christ. He knows the number of our days, and He has a plan for our lives. Based on everything He's told us, we simply believe He will turn this around at the appropriate time...when that last person hears Jeseca's story and comes to know God because of it. We choose to think He's getting the biggest bang for the buck.
In the meantime, I can't wait to begin a new chapter in our lives when she is fully healed. She wants to use the talent God's given her to be a great artist. I know she will.
One last thought...I hope to begin broadcasting small video blog updates on Jes. She'll hate being on camera, but it will be fun. Stay tuned.
It has been a wild couple of days. Two nights ago Jeseca awoke gasping for air. She's had trouble breathing at night for the past month or so, choking while she has slept. This night was the most serious. So we called the doctor yesterday to find out what was happening. They asked that we come in right away. I had two tickets to the Buick Invitational, so I thought we could see the doctor in the late morning then head out to see Tiger and the rest of the gang. Instead, we headed to ER at Scripps La Jolla for a simple MRI of her throat. We were there all day before finding out the results. And that's where Jeseca's story began to unfold a bit more.
It turns out that the cancer has come back in her neck; a 2cm tumor is growing against her right vocal chord, causing it to paralyze and obstructing her breathway. The doctor, who reminded us of Peter Sellers' dentist character in an old Pink Panther movie, was very blunt with us, which turned out to be a blessing. There are so many things going on with her that he really didn't know where to start, so he began at the top with her eye. There is a 4cm tumor growing in the orbit of her left eye. It can be removed, but at the risk of her losing her vision. That was one thing, but it wasn't critical unless she "wants to stay here longer."
Next was the tumor in her throat. Because the tumor is growing against her vocal chord, we were told it is only a matter of time until her already narrow (1mm) air passage fully closes and suffocates her. In his words, "you've been getting away with it. It can close up at any moment."
This particular tumor, however, is inoperable, and because Jes has had radiation to her entire neck and throat, she can only receive a radiation "boost." To make matters worse, any treatment will make her neck swell, suffocating her in the process. So we had to decide to either have a trach put in so she can breathe and live, or not. The only problem is this: even if she has a trach put in, and even if they are able to treat the tumor in her throat, she still has massive tumors in her liver and some in her chest and lung.
So as the doctor waited for our answer, Jes just looked up at him and told him exactly what I was thinking: "I want to pray about it." And with that, we left the hospital. As we walked to the car (it was quite a lengthy walk in the cold night and I was wearing shorts), we talked privately about the life we had built together.
When we got to the car (it was the only one in the parking lot), I asked her if she wanted to talk...if we were rushing. She said we could talk in the car on the way home, but as I opened the door for her to get in, she started crying...so did I. We have had such a rich life together. Eventually, we started home, and boy was it awesome to see the boys when we got there!
Bob and Joy came to join my mom and us in a prayer for the night. Thanks so much, you guys, for standing in the gap last night!
After putting the boys to bed, we stayed up as long as we could bear it. It was obvious - we were both afraid to go to bed. I crept into bed around 12:45 a.m., and while Jes washed her face before getting in bed, I asked God to reassure me that we did the right thing in rolling the dice with Him instead of choosing the trach. And this is exactly why we believe in our God. He spoke to me directly in Psalm 34 and told me not to be afraid, that those who place their trust in Him are saved from their fears and troubles. I'm paraphrasing, but I felt so much peace after that. I prayed with Jes when she got in bed, asking God to open my eyes in the morning to see her beautiful face smiling back at me. And with that, we both fell asleep.
I woke up around 8:30 a.m. to find that God had not answered my prayer...Jeseca was already up, not smiling back at me. No complaints, though.
The next several hours brought us so much joy, as friends from all over joined us in a prayer meeting at the house. The entire Hallahan clan was here, along with some of my side of the family and Jeseca's. We briefed everybody on our decision to skip conventional wisdom since the trach was just a temporary relief, not a cure, and instead that it was "all God or nothing." The next two hours were filled with prayer and supplication, with some praise and worship mixed in. By 1 p.m. we were filled up and ready to go, confident that we have made the right choice.
Now it's 11:20 p.m., and as I type this note/novel I can hear Jeseca's heavy breathing. She's been coughing quite a bit tonight, too. I say that to indicate that this step we've taken requires real faith. It's not easy, this walk, but thank God we are only required to take one step at a time...one day at a time. And it's all borrowed. All I want is another day with her. And then another. And I will keep asking for another day until God says no.
Lord, please bring us a new day with new mercies. We love you, even in the worst of times. And because you can be trusted, we know that you have much more life ahead of us, both of us.
After watching Jes struggle through dinner tonight due to the challenge swallowing has become, and after I had to encourage the boys that their mom was alright for the first time, I'm concerned that we are quickly backing into a corner. Everything is getting worse, yet God is merciful and has given her relief from some of her symptoms. Thankfully, for the past two nights she's been able to sleep through the night. Believe me when I say that's a very welcome change.
With the turning of the New Year, we have resolved to believe that God will, indeed, pull her out of this. We believe. No more wondering. No more guessing at "God's will." God has given both of us very specific scriptures, leading us to believe that He will come through.
In Luke 8:50, after Jesus' robe is touched by the bleeding woman, Jairus' friends come to tell him that he has no need of Jesus anymore...his daughter is dead. Jesus turned to him and said, "Don't be afraid; just believe and she will be healed." God showed that to me one morning several months ago, telling me not to worry and instead to believe in Him.
Psalm 41:3 says, "I [God] will sustain you on your sickbed; I will restore you from your bed of illness." Jeseca got this from God two years ago, and she has clung to it ever since. There are others, but these really stand out as clear messages from God. So we stand in faith against all else, and will remain true to God because He deserves nothing less.
Two more items before I go to bed...First, I'm so eager to play competitive golf. I'm continuing to improve all aspects of my short game and can't wait to get my equipment right. I just can't wait to compete again. I seriously need to pursue getting some sponsors for entry fees.
Every New Year's Eve, Jeseca and I pray from 11:55 p.m. to 12:05 a.m. to thank God for all that He has done in the passing year and to pray for the new year. Last year we prayed that God would take away her cancer, among other things. That didn't happen, but I imagine the other things did as a result of her having cancer...closer relationship with God...more prayer...more study...more reliance on His every word and provision. This year is different. Everyone is asleep now. We prayed together with the boys before they went to bed, beginning a new tradition with them, but there will be no prayer at midnight tonight. Jes isn't doing very well. And so I wonder, what lies ahead in 2007...
For the past 3+ years, I have been to every radiation and chemotherapy treatment my wife has had to endure; I have been there for every procedure and office visit; and I have seen the hand of God work miracles. What began as cancer of the tonsil spread to 30+ lymph nodes in her neck and throat, and her liver. Through the best oncologist we know, and a fantastic surgeon, God eliminated the cancer in her tonsil, neck and throat. Since then, though, her liver has become one massive tumor; her chest and lungs are rapidly being overrun; and her left eye is in jeopardy again (having already gone through one round of radiation), this time with a tumor growing from the top-inside corner of her eye to beneath it. She has been through six or seven chemotherapy drugs, some of which were entirely experimental and had no history of working on her type of cancer. They didn't work. Liver transplant is not an option, nor is surgery on the liver; both will kill her, they say. Her system has become so fragile. And because none of the conventional chemo treatments are effective, there really isn't a systemic approach we can take.
Throughout all of this, God has shown himself strong in our lives. He has dealt with every care we have, and has given us the opportunity to show our two young boys how amazing God is in the midst of trials and challenges.
We believe more than ever that God is an awesome God. He has proven Himself. All there is left to do is wait for Him to do what no one else can. And I pray that He will come quickly, because time is short.
As for my golf game in '07, Jeseca blessed me with a membership at a local golf club. Now I can work on my short game every day and begin to lower my scores. I am also reshafting my irons with X-100s, have a new putter, will buy a new sand wedge, and hope to find the right combination of shaft strength, torque and launch angle for my driver. God willing...
As midnight approaches, I want to finish with this: As I prayed over Jes a few minutes ago, telling God that our hope is in Him alone, Jeseca awoke and said, "Don't forget to praise Him. He deserves all of that." It reminded me of a story Jeremy Camp told our church congregation 10 years ago; about how his wife died of cancer, singing with her head and hands lifted up to God. I'm blown away. How does she do that? I am the luckiest man on the face of the earth...my wife loves God more than her own life...and she loves me next.
So, I will praise Him. He is deserving. Happy New Year, everyone! And to God be the glory! JG
Here it is just a day after I successfully delegated away all but one project at work......I told my department that I would be taking the next several weeks off of work last Friday, as it looked like the beginning of the end for Jeseca......she broke down into tears and admitted that she didn't think she was going to make it. The pain is too much to bear. There are absolutely no options for treatment. And she was no longer motivated to fight it.
But there has been a dramatic turn of events. Where every night came with pain, now there is none. Her liver has softened; it was rock hard. Best of all, she had an "overwhelming" sense as she approached a local supermarket today that she has been healed. Whoooooohooooooooo!!!!!!
I don't really know what else to say. Last week we were preparing ourselves for the worst. Tonight we're praising God for doing the impossible! We're gonna wait to tell the world about it for a few days, and probably go in to see our oncologist and have him take a look, but for now, we are overjoyed with the possibility that God has shown Himself strong and brought us through! Man, He's good! JG
We found out a day or so ago that our insurance won't cover a trip to Santa Monica for the trial treatments. It's a relief, to a certain extent. It's also an answer to prayer, as we've been asking God what to do.
I've felt for the past couple of months that God will not share His praise with anyone or anything else. Not Isagenix, although it has helped to better Jeseca's life. Not chemotherapy or any radiation treatment. These only treat the symptoms. No, it will only be God who completely heals her, and He will deserve all of the credit.
Time appears to be getting shorter, but we balance what she goes through with the promises of God, words He has actually spoken to us through the Bible, in our hearts, and through other people, and we wait for Him to come through. He will, we are sure of that. We just hope it will be soon. JG
I woke up at 4:00 a.m. this morning to a sense of overall dread or urgency. It wasn't because of Jeseca or anything ominous related to her fight against cancer. It was more a calling to get up and look for answers. Not being completely coherent, I wandered to the living room and opened my Bible to Job. Great......
I read chapters 8-11. Job is crying out to God for relief, even death, for his suffering is too much to bear any longer. I thought of Jes. Job pleads with God to end it all, declaring his innocence and wondering how all of this ruin could have come to him. His friends tell him it's all his fault; God is just punishing him for his evil deeds. I thought of how Satan continually whispers in my ear that God hasn't healed Jeseca because of me. Job acknowledges that his friends have stated what anyone can understand. Then he makes the point that, even if he were innocent, if God wanted to judge him, he would have no opportunity to object. It is God who makes the rules. I thought about my last entry about not understanding.
Knowing how Job's story ends, I felt better somehow. God restores his health and blesses him with twice as much as he had before. And, Job never lost his wife. She gave him some pretty bad advice once, but that's another story. I guess I can take this morning's urgency as God's wake-up call. I don't have to understand why God does or does not do something. I only need to understand that He is God; that He makes the rules; that He is love; and that He has Jeseca's best interest at heart.
We can look for ways to alleviate Jeseca's symptoms, like Job scraping his sores. Whatever we decide to do, it helps to know and understand that God's plan always wins out. And based on what He has shown us, though times may be tough now, there is a much better life ahead. Thank God for that. JG
As a firm believer in Christ, I know all of the "correct answers" when it comes to trials, problems, and other issues we face in life. Is life hard? Of course. Jesus said we would face many trials. Paul said we are overcomers, "broken but not crushed." Foxe's Book of Martyrs provides an entirely different perspective on suffering. These are answers, like I said. But when I have to watch my wife endure health issues over which she has absolutely no control, the line between knowledge and understanding gets a bit more fuzzy.
Example: I know God can heal her. I don't understand why He hasn't.
Tumors are presenting in other areas of Jeseca's body...her throat again, on the left side and under her thyroid. She says her life is no longer her own. I understand that to mean that it's the Lord's to do with what He wills. Right now we're at a crossroads. Our three options are:
Head to Santa Monica to meet with an oncologist who works with trial drugs funded by the drug manufacturers. (We've done this before with Erbitux and Alimta; neither worked.)
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had a very weird moment while in Vegas with Jeseca, Dat and Tran. We were eating lunch at The Venetian when we saw a crowd gather around what I thought was a statue. It turned out to be a pretty creepy mime. So I thought I'd have a laugh and coerce Dat into taking a picture with him/her. What resulted is that weird moment I talked about. Oh well, funny times are good for the blog, I guess.
Everen also won his first karate championship! (That's my boy!) Jeseca and I were so proud. I'll put up the video here when I can.
There is still no cure for Jeseca, but that's no surprise. God continues to show himself strong on our behalf. He amazes me each day... We finalized the proposal for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., but there is still work to do before we get to a contract. Hailer Technologies can help the deaf and hard-of-hearing immensely... Most noteworthy tonight, though, is that the past couple of weeks have been heavy. Someone we know is going through a very hard time -- divorce, surgery, loss of job -- and it is so hard to see her go through it. I don't know what else to say about it...it's just heavy.
That's why I'm so excited to get back out to Torrey Pines this week! There's no better course, as far as I'm concerned; for my game, my heart, my mind. I'll be trying out some new clubs, so I'll be sure to let you know how it goes. Either way, I'm back out on the big boys' playground and I can't wait.
Isn't it amazing that people take time out of their days to pray for you? For others? What a selfless act to go to God and inquire on behalf of another.
I was talking with a friend of mine at work today...someone I don't often see, but with whom I share an understanding of life via Christianity, so she asked how Jeseca's doing. I shared how the doctors have told us (essentially) that there is no cure, and that Jes is having to deal with pain off and on. She said she was praying for us, and that God is in the business of miracles. How amazing. God places people in our lives to encourage us, to lift us up, and to help us in times of trouble.
If you are one of those people for us, Thank You from the bottom of our hearts. You are extraordinary, and we pray that God will bless you many times over for your faithfulness. And Laurel, know that you brightened my day. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I realize more each day just how fragile Jeseca is, and how amazing it is that she is still alive. I am also witness to the awesome power of God and His flawless love for us.
I have spent the past 48 hours wondering if Jeseca was nearing the end. Last night was the worst night we've had, with Jeseca lying in agony on her back and sides, and literally not breathing for short amounts of time. We spent eight hours today at the doctor's office/emergency room trying to find out why she is in so much pain. The tumors in her liver are causing inflammation to the outer wall of the liver; cramping her right diaphragm, and causing shortness of breath and sharp, stabbing pain with every inhalation. Thankfully, our oncologist prescribed an anti-inflammatory/pain killer that we believe will help her get some sleep.
Here's what's amazing about God, though. Cancer covers nearly 75% of her liver, yet today's blood results showed her liver is functioning perfectly. How can you explain that other than God's hand is upon her, sustaining her, holding her tightly in His right hand and preparing her for another day? You can't. There is no other explanation.
God is simply great. He's awesome. Cool. Wonderful. Fantastic, trustworthy and wholeheartedly in love with my wife. And He will keep His promise. God is "the bomb."
Each night I pray for and with Jeseca, thanking Almighty God for keeping His promise to sustain her on her sickbed, and asking that He complete it by restoring her from her bed of illness. (Psalm 41:3) Can I be sure that God will do it? Based on the fact that He is always truthful, I am so glad to say that I can. So just like Jacob, we will not let go of the Creator of the universe until His promise comes to pass.
Looking forward to better days for my wonderful wife...
After a week of press about the Airport Authority's mailer, some work on other projects, building our Isagenix team web site and having a sleepover with three additional boys in the house, I am so glad to see the weekend's here. Jes and I did get a mid-week break, though, and played the redesigned and newly re-opened Sail Ho Golf Course. Not bad for what I think will be a great course for shoring up my short iron game.
In the end, I got to spend another day with Jeseca, and for that, I am grateful. One day at a time...
I read Numbers 13 again a couple of days ago...about the 12 spies. We all know the story, but what really got me was how Caleb silenced the others and told Moses and the Israelites that they could go in and take the land. The others had just described it, how there were giants in the land, and yet Caleb knew that they could take it because he knew God...he knew the nature of God personally. He was confident and without doubt. I want to be like that. God asks us to put that kind of trust in Him so we can go beyond what we know and believe and into the Promised Land He has for our lives. But we will never find out what's on the other side until we completely sell out to Him and allow Him to take us beyond our own levels of comfort. God is calling to our hearts to strive for more, to reach for more than what we can do on our own. I want to try.