Tuesday, September 29, 2015

One step at a time

      We have gotten through some really rough seasons taking one day or one step at a time.  Sometimes it feels foolish, not to plan more for the hundred ways this all could go.   But then something hits that makes me grateful that is the way we have walked.  One foot in front of the other, believing that God goes before us and stands behind us.
     After 48 hours in the hospital and one happy visit from the boys Jeff's body started tot fight an infection.  His fever went up to 104 f and his heart rate increased at times to 140.  His oxygen levels dropped, and the doctors tried desperately to find
 the origin of the infection and the right antibiotic to combat it.  My mom arrived and stayed with the boys and I stayed with Jeff as a steady stream of doctors and nurses checked his vitals and explained what they could.  24 hours in, the fever had not broken and they were on the last antibiotic they  could give.  I let his parents know to come as quickly as they could.  I sent out desperate pleas to close friends to pray.  And as his parents were in the air I didn't know what I would be telling them once they landed.  Night two, the antibiotics started to work.  It was a slow climb up.  Our oncologist explained gently that he would continue with the five radio therapy treatments but that it was time to stop all other treatment.  That the chemotherapy and Herceptin had stopped working long before.  That the cancer in the spine had been growing when the last scan had shown the cancer was stable.  Easy to miss when you are not expecting it, and when it is certainly not the norm.  Another hard decision, another hard step.  We explained we wanted to get Jeff home, to see friends and family and see those blue ridge mountains.  He promised he would do what he could to get us there.  When we had to cancel the Majorca tickets we had to exchange our tickets within 24 hours or risk losing all of the money.  I switched the tickets to October 3rd with return tickets October 23rd not knowing if we would even be able to keep them.  
The five day radio therapy stay turned into a ten day stay.  The grandmas tag teamed tearful boys and a lively puppy.  And after ten days I brought home a very frail and weak Jeff.  We were so ready to have him home but afraid of what being home would look like.  The doctors and nurses in Ward 32 had become a close knit support team.  Their compassion and teamwork helped get us through some dark nights.  We spent many a night praying for the patients that filled the rooms surrounding us.  And we saw for the first time how quickly things can change at this stage in the game.  
     Jeff has been home for one week now.  Far from the man that first walked slowly into the house last Monday.  We have walked each morning and evening.  He has been fed his mama's cooking to make up for the lost pounds in the hospital.  The boys took turns taking a day off from school to have a daddy day.  Our hope is to all catch a plane to the USA on the 3rd of October and we are still holding out hope we could come back to Scotland three weeks later.  We know that seems ridiculous and impossible right now but we have already lived out some ridiculous and impossible things this season.  We don't feel our time here is up or that Jeff's story is over.  So many things have happened that indicate that this is all so much bigger than us and our little family.  It is bigger than Ward 32 or all of Dundee and Fife.   We have experienced prayers of faith, friends with words of truth and hope, and lives being drawn to the one who made them.  We don't feel wise enough to fully understand these things, but feel it being stretched far from just our hearts changing.  Our good friend and former pastor came to Scotland for 48 hours just to pray for Jeff and share what he felt the Lord was doing. Humility and a willingness to follow when the path doesn't make sense.  What a gift it was to talk, cry, and pray with him.  We find ourselves in waters too deep to fully understand.  We find ourselves praying for healing in Jeff, for healing in Scotland- that somehow through this the Lord himself would sing to those far off.  And brokenness would be restored.
     Yesterday, following another viewing of Chronicles of Narnia, Jeff explained to Luke the difference between D Day and V Day.  The difference between Christ's victory on the cross, and his return and restoration.  Luke with open ears and an anxious heart, began to find peace in the fact that the decisive blow of victory has already been won.  For all things.  In the midst of waters too deep, we too are finding peace and trust here one step at a time.
     We will be arriving In Virginia October 4th.  We are staying on a beautiful farm near Charlottesville,VA and UVA Hospital.  So far all the many small details are coming together.  Much love, Team Stables

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Update September 13th 2015

The last week in August and the first ten days in September were so good.  Jeff got stronger, felt better, and even gained back some weight.  After a stable scan and going off the heavy hitting chemotherapy his energy slowly recovered and the Jeff we know emerged with it.  The boys started school and leaders came back to the University.  It almost felt normal, and it felt so good.  The summer just about crushed us and we managed to crawl out into the sinking sun and thank God for good days.  Jeff even made a move and booked tickets for us all to run away to a warm island for nine days.  We told the boys and the countdown (only seven days of it) began.  The next three windy and wet days would be met with, "Well in ... days we will be sweating and swimming!"  We were four days away from leaving, the schools were notified and so supportive.

Thursday night, during dinner Jeff turned his head to the side a little quicker than normal, and grimaced in pain.  He slowly moved to the couch and the pain increased.  Remembering his back issues years ago he said that it was probably a pinched nerve or muscle spasm.  I said something very unsympathetic like " Not right before holiday, no!" and maybe even something about how he holds his phone or checking face book too much, ouch.  I got the boys to bed and came back down to see the pain had gotten even worse.  Jeff is no stranger to pain these days and this was far past what he had experienced so far.  After a long night of friends checking in on him, a doctor, a shot and pills, he was still unable to move because of the pain.

I fell asleep in between pills doses and Alex who was staying the night with us took over.  By 5 am Alex drove Jeff to the ER (here it is called the A&E).  I got the boys off to school and met them at the hospital.  We were all hoping a shot of cortisone would help and we would be home packing towels and swimsuits by the evening.  Instead, x-rays and than a CT scan was ordered.  A kind doctor named Ian and Jeff's age came back to tell us that he didn't have a pinched nerve or a muscle spasm.  The cancer had spread into his spine and had damaged the bone in his neck that hurt so suddenly.

And just like the first time we heard of cancer in Jeff's body, our hearts and minds reeled.  Things go cloudy, and slow down.  Everything  suddenly seems too bright, too loud, too much.  Questions and confusion slink into every sentence.  We waited for more doctors, more answers.  I watched the clock and wondered where each boy was.  What letter Ian was writing, what friend Levi was laughing with, if Luke was buying a bacon roll for morning break.  I wondered how I would tell these boys doing simple normal things, that things were about to get hard and complex and confusing again.  We cried and prayed and Jeff asked me to read
Exodus 14:14, "The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still."  Doctors came and spoke of options.  They decided the best thing to do was to admit Jeff, get a handle on the pain, and start the first of five sessions of radio therapy.  He was in his new room and the morphine was coursing through his veins as I left to meet the boys from school.

The boys broke in different ways.  We have gotten good at crying together.  Not hiding or shutting down.  We have gotten familiar with grace.  To give it to each other when words fail, or the hurt seems too much.  We wanted a week away, we wanted more time of normal, of good.  We wanted Jeff home right then, smiling, and joking with us.

I reminded them and myself that we don't get to write this story.  The pen isn't in our hand but God's.  We have to trust that the one who knit Jeff into being also knows how to sustain him.  It is funny how little Ian gets it more than I can most days.  He knows so little of what is going on in some ways and yet speaks so clearly about it all.  He is amazed that Jeff gets to be zapped by lasers and that his bed goes up and down.  He knows Jeff is hurting and prays simple prayers asking God to just heal him, to help him not hurt so much.  He looks up at me and says, "We all get to die mom.  Isn't that cool?  We all get to be born and we all get to die."  I didn't meet his gaze.  "It is okay mom, not yet, not yet, we will get old first."  Amen and amen.  We are not naive, we know that hard battle has become harder.  We have become weaker.  But this story will not be written by Jeff, or I, or doctors.  It will not even be written by cancer.  It will be written by God alone.

Please pray for peace.  For Jeff to sleep sweetly and deeply the nights away from us.  That we will know what to do next and when to do it.  That the radio therapy will beat back the cancer and offer relief.  And that we will find joy in the brokenness and  hope in the disappointments.  Jeff will be in the hospital until this Thursday.  As of today the pain seems to be under control and he is sleeping better.  If he is stable and the pain is still managable he will get to come home.  My mom comes tomorrow afternoon to help again.  Jeff's mom comes at the end of the week, and his dad in the next few weeks.  The doctors are optimistic about the radio therapy working.  We are hopeful also.  We also are hoping and believing that all ten of our toes will be in sand and sea together before the year is over.  Thank you for sticking with us.  The faithfulness of friends and family far away is so humbling.  This little village of Wormit is helping and holding us up in so many ways.  I will update next week when we know a bit more.

  Much love, Becca, Jeff, and the boys

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Update August 15, 2015

Jeff got diagnosed with stage IV esophageal cancer on March 18th, 2015.  In five months we have walked through complete shock, denial, despair, hope, and acceptance.  The last 6 weeks have been the hardest so far in this journey.  Jeff went from tolerating the treatments fairly well to getting sick constantly, being breathless after climbing any stairs, and so tired some days he could only make it from bed to couch.  These are also the same six weeks that all three of our Young Life camps happened.  We have never felt so humbled in our ability.  The greater Young Life family, some amazing student leaders (Euan, Mahlea, and Cameron), and an amazing team from McLean VA,  stepped up and all three camps happened.  We simply could not have pulled any of this off without the Scotland Young Life staff or these leaders.  On behalf of the many new creations from these camps, we are thankful and learning new things about God's grace to use us in our weakness.

Two weeks ago Jeff noticed he was having difficulty swallowing again.  Our hearts sunk and the fears bubbled up as we travelled to London for an endoscopy and scan.  The endoscopy to show what was happening to the stent and primary tumor and the scan to show how the cancer had responded to the last three rounds.  It was a rough trip, Jeff needing to sit and rest after a few yards walking and continuing to get sick.  The endoscopy showed that the stent had fallen into his stomach (hence the heavy feeling and continual sickness) and that he had a large pulmonary embolism in his lung (hence the zero energy and breathlessness).  The first news was exciting, the stent has always caused pain and that impacted Jeff in so many ways.  The Doctor was able to fish the stent out that day.  It also meant that it had dropped out of place due to a shrinking primary tumor.  The blood clot in the lung was terrifying.  He since has started daily injections to prevent any other clots from forming and to help resolve this one.

We got the scan results two nights ago.  It was by phone because his oncologist was away while we were in London.  The scans showed that there was minimal response this time.  Obviously the primary tumor did respond but that tumor was never measured in the beginning because of location and stent interfering with a reliable measurement.  With this information the oncologist and Jeff felt it was best to stop the Cisplatin.  This is the standard heavy hitting chemo he was receiving every three weeks.  He will continue taking the chemo pills for two weeks and one week off.  He will also still take the Herceptin, which is the targeted drug for the HER2+ diagnosis.  Our hope being that this will be enough to hold the cancer at bay and give him better quality of life.

There are so many unknowns ahead of us right now.  Now more than ever we are reassuring the boys (and ourselves) that God has a plan.  That He is not surprised by any of the things that have happened to us in the last five months.  And that indeed He is good and loves us beyond measure.

My mom flew home yesterday and I cannot imagine these last six weeks without her love, prayers, and words of hope.  I think I cried more than the first day of kindergarten saying goodbye.  The boys begin their school year next Thursday, and  Jeff and I will begin to figure out how things will work this next year here in Scotland.

We have been asked by many people if we have made plans to move back home yet.  The short answer is that we have prayed about it often lately but still feel we are suppose to stay here until we hear differently.  Please pray for our hearts and minds as we take all of these little steps daily and make big decisions for the future.

The pictures in this post are of a hill that is behind our house.  I walk up there often with Zoe and any family or friends willing to make the hike.  It has become a place where I can pour out my heart and pray through some hard things.  I feel like by the time Zoe and I both come through the front door my heart and mind are a little more trusting and less fearful.  Thanks for all the continued love and support even an ocean away.  Much love, Becca, Jeff, and the boys

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Without fear of the future

I have always had a head filled with questions.  Often I ask a question and can barely wait for the first answer to finish before asking my next one.  I am curious, a chatty 
one.  But sometimes, questions can't be answered.  And sometimes, knowing that an answer cannot be answered keeps it festering in the dark.

  On Thursday Jeff got horribly ill with a nasty stomach bug just days after the grandmas arrived.  We had planned a weekend away with us all.  Jeff gets one relatively good week each round where he is not taking any chemo pills, and the affect of the iv chemo has almost dissipated.  So for him to get sick on his one good week was heart breaking.

You get to a point where even if the one you love is suffering patiently, you begin to cry "enough".   It also awakens the whys, what ifs, and not fairs from lips that were just giving thanks the week before.  And while having two other sets of hands and hearts have allowed things to run smoother this week, it has also given me extra time to breathe and think.  Laundry is caught up, Zoe is having way less accidents, and Ian loves picking who will read to him each night.  The house is full of what only two grandmas can bring.  And my head had filled with the questions I knew had no answers.

 I have scrolled through face book wondering why we can't have normal any more.  I have seen families playing at the park and felt the unfairness of it all.  And my eyes follow older couples walking hand in hand and I have blinked away tears of what ifs.

I know it is perfectly normal to wrestle through the whys, what ifs, and not fairs.  Anyone who has walked a path similar would tell me this is par for the course.  But it is the first time I have landed here and I was afraid I would get stuck in the sad muck of questions without answers.  

I told Jeff I didn't want to be a withered old heart and soul after all of this.  His hand squeezed tighter and I spilled out all the broken whys that had built up.  I am certain that in the face of suffering we will eventually reach a point where the faith and hope we had will run out.  We will get to a point where we can curl into the broken questions and sink into despair, or we can confess our lack of faith and hope and take another step forward into the only place where real security ever really was.  Into a bigger reality.  His love and commitment towards us. Or as Paul tells Timothy "If we are faithless, he remains faithful..." Tim 2:13

So I took a step forward.  I woke up and asked for help.  When friends asked how I was I admitted that I couldn't see the good.  When I read scripture and promises I prayed for my heart to not be angry but to believe.  And I read and wrestled and asked all the questions that crowded my thoughts.  

After these last few days I am pretty sure the not knowing isn't as hard when you voiced the whys.  The not fairs don't sting once you have been able to pour them out and see how very little they look compared to the mountain of gifts we have been given.  And the what ifs become statements of faith and promise.

During all of this I received a beautiful bracelet in the mail that has Proverbs 25:31 stamped inside it.
"She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."  Ian loved it and wanted me to let him have it.  He asked why I got it.  He asked what dignity is.  For days he asked me if I would let him have it.  Finally, last night he declared he didn't want it any more.  I asked him why and he chuckled and said,  "because I like the strength and dignity part, but the no fear of the future part...why would anyone be afraid of the future!  I mean it is the future, it is not something to be afraid of."  I laughed and he added under his breath, "I mean, there aren't even any bears here!"
Oh to have a child's heart.

Jeff is about to have round number five in this six round cycle.  We will have another scan after round six and again be at a place of making decisions on treatment and direction.  He is still steadfast.  He is still showing up at the schools and lining up all the big and small details for the day camp in Tayport.  We have a very full summer ahead, with three camps (Day camp, Young Life camp, and Wyld Life camp.)  The boys are signed up for a sports camp and art classes.  And in a six week summer that leaves very little room for anything else.  In September we will steal away for a much needed family vacation on a warm, rainless beach.

Thank you for the continued emails, cards, and blankets.  This month when we have felt so weak, knowing that so many were standing with us in faith, hope, and love has sustained us.  Much love, Becca and the rest of Team Stables

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Update: June 13th

Good news, the majority of the tumors measured are shrinking.  None have grown, and only two have stayed the same.  The cancer started at the base of the esophagus, the primary tumor.  They are unable to evaluate any change to this tumor because the stent is pushing and distorting anything that would be measurable.  The stent is also allowing Jeff to eat anything he wants so we won't complain about it being difficult to measure.  Then the cancer is also in his lungs and lymph nodes.  Some of the lung tumors measured up to 50% decrease.  And a lymph node measured a 25% decrease.  This is called partial response and it is a very good sign that the targeted chemo approach is working.  We will continue the course and Jeff will have three more rounds, one every three weeks until this cycle is finished.  He will then do another scan late July and decide what is next.

 The news came much later than the three hours we anticipated.  We arrived in London and Jeff had a high fever.  An extra appointment was made, and he started emergency antibiotics.  By the next morning the fever had subsided and blood work looked good.  At 12:30 Jeff got the scan and the results were to be ready to go over with Dr. Gaya at 3:00.  At the 3 o' clock appointment we learned that the server went down after 12 pm, and that the scan was inaccessible.  Jeff's oncologist was also leaving for Tokyo the next morning.  We left knowing very little and waited for five days while his doctor tried his best to access the scans from Tokyo.  We got the email three days ago, the night before Jeff left for round 4 of chemo.  Our patience and trust muscles have to be getting a little bigger.
 We are rejoicing that the cancer is not spreading.  We are thankful that the majority of the tumors are shrinking.  Hopeful that this will continue to work and Jeff will continue to tolerate the daily grind of chemo pills, hiccups, stent pain, and fatigue.  Jeff has always been a long distance runner in life and relationships.  He stays the course through wind, snow, or rain.  Slow and patient, he wakes up and trudges through whatever the day and symptoms throw at him.  He long distance runs in ministry, friendships, and as a husband and father.  It really is a blessing especially when we see such a long road ahead of us.  I don't have a doubt that he will run it well depending on a big God who can do impossibly big things.

I am a sprinter by nature.  Man I can run fast, but for a very short time.  And then, hopefully when no one is looking, my knees buckle and I dry heave.  I feel like I have been sprinting for a really long time.  Once the recent good news came through, my legs buckled on the path.   It hasn't been pretty.  And chocking out, "Really, I am good, I just need more sleep maybe," while sucking in breath and sobs, does not convince people you are doing okay.  My faith this week feels small.  My stomach clenches the minute my eyes flutter open.  The confidence I had last week, last month, feels lost in the getting through of the days.  But I also stared at a mustard seed and reread Luke 17:6 over and over.  Thankful for a friend who was willing to spare a mustard seed and not think I am crazy.

When Jeff and I pray together we ask for God to heal Jeff's body but to also heal our hearts, and minds.  To change the way we see things.  When something like this hits, you see so clearly how the suffering of the heart and mind can wreak as much havoc as the suffering of the body.  We don't want to come out of this unchanged.  I pray our hearts will be stretched far wider.  And that our minds will dwell on truth instead of fear.  Both Jeff and I have spoken to so many people who have walked through the deep waters of illness, grief, and pain.  Some have walked it alone, and others have just begun.  I know even on the knee buckling days, God will use us.  Because He is faithful to waste nothing.  Not one once of getting it right or hopelessly wrong,  Not a bit of the walking it out gracefully or dry heaving on the side line is wasted.  Faith as small as a mustard seed will uproot fear and despair.

We are tired as we approach the end of our first year in Scotland.  But we are tired and hopeful.  There is still so much to be done between now and the next two months.  The grandmas come in ten days and we are so excited.  Thank you for continuing to stand with us.  The emails, letters, cards, blankets, lego sets, and prayers have encouraged us more than we could ever express.
                                                               Much love, Becca

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Knights of the banquet table

A few weeks ago 6 godly men joined me in inviting my 3 sons into a process of knighthood.  5 of them flew across the Atlantic, some with spouses, some with families in tow, all for the sake of the most sacred moment of my life thus far as a father.  These were men that Becca and I prayerfully invited to join us in being committed to the boys for life. 2 uncles, 3 great friends from Culpeper days, and one great friend from Scotland days.  All men that the boys know well, and deeply love and respect.  All men that would drop anything to pray for them and be there for them.

The week before the ceremony I intentionally poured into the boys rather a multitude of others.  Following some ques from a book I was reading (Raising Modern Day Knights - Robert Lewis) this would take on the form of knighthood.  Where courage and bravery are lifted up alongside tenderness, self control and discipline.  I do not know what is in store for my boys or how long I will get to walk beside them.  This would be a step in the direction of equipping them for whatever was in store.

You see,  I lived the life of a knucklehead wandering teen, searching for life in all the wrong places.  Just as all things were falling apart and far before I had pulled anything together I was called by the unmistakable grace of Jesus.  I've since prayed for, sought out, and walked with teens that have all the wanderings and failings that I had.  I know the power of investing one simple life into another life.  Of men investing in the next generation of men.  I know that truly every boy and man has a deep soul longing for an adventure. A longing to live a life of freedom, a battle to fight, and a beauty to rescue.  I also know that without guidance, prayer, and community, these deep longings can hurtle off track like a runaway train destroying what they were intended to protect.

Following my diagnosis, this knights of the round table dream was birthed, not out of panic or desperation, but out of prayer, clarity, and with intention.  These men are not men who would replace me, but those who would join me.  This time was not a passing of torch, but a lighting of one.

And so we rented a castle for a day.  Really, its the only appropriate place for knighthood ceremonies.  No round table, but an amazing banquet table.  Gospel readers will appreciate this mixed metaphor.

And all of us men, families, spouses - played hide and seek in this elaborate castle, and we feasted, and we built a fire, and we laughed.

As our evening feast came to a close, we began the real reason for gathering. The feasting table became a ceremony table with 7 men who shared a specific scripture, a Godly characteristic, and prayer for each boy.  Can you imagine what that would be like for you?  No matter how old we are, to have multiple people you love and respect affirming who you are and who you will become - far past your projected versions of yourself, calling out your real identity in Christ?  I saw their chests puff out and their smiles widened as they felt the love and importance of the night.  They saw a glimpse of what it means to walk with men around them, not alone, but together, facing what is to come.  I wish it for you, to feel what we all felt that night.

The words of life will last.  The powerful prayers over each boy will last.  The memory of the ceremony will last.  More importantly the commitment to be involved for LIFE will last.  It will be a lifeline when trains jump the tracks or intentions fail, because both will happen.  My boys will not escape the heartache of mistakes and brokenness that we all are subject to.  What they will have are men who will remind them of God's love and grace.  That they are called to a far greater story.   And they will have men who will share the Gospel, the expulsive power of a greater affection.

You know what else will last?  Ginormous SWORDS!  Each boy, upon completion of the ceremony was awarded with a real Scottish claymore sword, taller than each of them, and sharpened for battle.  Of course the boys, (and really the older men as well) had to exercise discipline to not sword fight in the castle.  These swords will be a visual reminder for my boys of the ceremony - but they also know that they are not yet ready to wield this sword- it represents the MEN they are becoming.  The days when they truly become knights - shouldering the responsibilities of life, boldly trusting in Jesus, and protecting all of those entrusted to them.

Next week Becca and I will go to London to see if the Chemo treatments have been effective.  We know I have an aggressive, fast moving cancer.  We know it has spread to both lungs, my lymph nodes, and started in a tumor in my esophagus.  We know the time frame was less than a year without treatment.  But we also know that God numbers my days not man or disease.  We know that He is able to heal and restore what is broken not just in our hearts but in our bodies.  I also know that He gives grace no matter what the outcome is.  We are praying big prayers and hoping for amazing news on Thursday.  We have wonderful friends that will be watching the boys while we are away and we will get home in time to tuck them in Friday night.  Thank you for all the e-mails, video (what a video), cards, notes, and care packages.  You have made this fight a lot easier.  There is still so much to do and live out, and there are three knights to raise with Becca and a group of wonderful men standing with us.

In His grace alone, Jeff

Friday, May 8, 2015

To give thanks

8 hours of chemo in the IV, 112 chemo pills, scores of nausea pills, vitamins, and the occasional sleeping pill all in four weeks time.  Two times a day he sits at the kitchen table, pills lined up, fingers tapping as he wills another one down with a swig of gingered drink.  In a month I think back to all the family meals where he smiled and tried to eat a bite of what his boys inhaled at a speed only growing boys can accomplish.  Late mornings and early nights, the grey furred blanket wrapped around him tight.  You can get lost in the pill counting, hour counting, the blur of getting through another day, week, and round.  His hair will stay, and his crinkled eyed smile will also.  And apart from a much skinnier, more mellow Jeff, he still banters with the boys, and asks me how my heart is really doing.
One of the things we have changed in as a family is how much we give thanks.  Focusing on what has been given in the day instead of what feels taken.  We have always been thankful for our life here in Scotland.  But now we are saying them out loud.  A verbal record of the good and not just the hard. 

 A morning talk with mugs of tea between us.  Sipping and talking, lingering at the sunlit table after the line of pills has been swallowed.  
The days he feels well and comes down with his collar shirt buttoned, bag slung over a shoulder and keys in his hand ready to meet with students and leaders.  
The walk with Levi, their heads disappearing from my view from the kitchen window.  How is Levi almost as tall as the father that always towered above him? 
 Luke asking questions about prayer and love.  Jeff's brow knitting to match Luke as they talk.  Two thinkers trying to figure out life together.  
Ian rushing in to show dad his latest drawing, Lego build, or story.  He reminds me often that he is not my son, only dad can call him son, but I can call him my Ian.    
YL Open Mic Night in St.Andrews.  Students singing, staff friends helping, and leaders shining.
A date night filled with fancy food and sharing our hearts, remembering, and hoping together.
Lion King on family movie night.  I left during the sad parts, Ian yelling after that the sad parts aren't that sad because it is all about love and the circle of life.  
  Shoulders that are still broad to lean on, a hand that engulfs mine in its grasp.
We are noticing the flowers blooming, and grass changing to the brightest green.  
The people surrounding our days, the ones that spill out love, and encouragement, and prayers.  
There is so much more to count.  To recall and to thank God for everything we have been given is impossible. But our humble attempts are shaping our hearts in a season we did not expect.

Jeff got back from round two late Saturday night.  His best friend from High School, Nick, flew out to be with him this time.  What a gift we have in friendships.  Jeff seems to be tolerating this round better than last.  Though trying to explain his days is like trying to describe the ocean in one word.  What could be still and calm in the morning can turn into foam topped waves by midday.  And so this morning was good.  And good for this morning meant that Jeff played Uno with the older boys and connect four with Ian even though he was fatigued and achy.  Good was that he ate two eggs, baked beans, and black pudding for breakfast and he didn't feel like he would lose it later.  Good is him now sleeping soundly upstairs as I type this.  And good later today would be that he can send out some e-mails and make some phone calls before three boys bound into the office to talk of their latest adventures.

This week when people ask how things are, I say our feet have finally found the ground again.  We are moving forward expecting a good God to give exactly what we will need for each moment of each day.  We are laughing, crying, and praying together more than ever before.  And we know God will accomplish more than we could ever ask or hope for in this season.  
In a week in a half we will have two uncles, one aunt, two nieces, and five other close friends come to our little village to love on  Jeff and the boys.  Jeff had a great idea when all of this hit that is now being put into action and I can't wait to share it with you as it unfolds.  
Thank you for all the love and prayers.  Thank you for walking with us as we thank God for the beautiful gifts along this hard road. 
Love, Becca