God’s provision looks different depending on the circumstances, but it is always fitting. And it is always timely.
Last night, I stayed up late writing an update about the last three weeks. I wanted to share about our good days in the middle of this hard journey. I wanted (and still want) for everybody to be encouraged as we have been encouraged by the good gifts that the Lord has given to us these days. I wrote it. I didn’t post it. God knew what today would bring and He was providing for what I would need today.
This morning was very rough, but before you read about it, be encouraged by the ways God has orchestrated everything.
God’s mercies are new every morning. I’ll say it again. God’s mercies are TRULY new every morning.
A lot has happened in almost three weeks since the last post. We celebrated Jonathan’s 43rd birthday on August 13th. His whole family was here and it felt like a glorious day. Jonathan pushed himself as much as he could and ate better than he had in weeks -meaning three or four spoonfuls of food, plus a bite of cake, as opposed to only one or two spoonfuls per meal. Next day, he felt so bad that he made the decision not to eat solid food again. It was very difficult. In my mind, food is nutrition and nutrition sustains our physical bodies. We would rely only on protein shakes. By August 18th he was feeling very weak averaging only one or two shakes a day. That day, a friend let us borrow a juicer and Jonathan drank about half a cup. Over the next days, we had some good and other not so good days, but his general interaction began to improve, his nausea and acid reflux also got better and his juice intake slowly increased. By August 24th, normal body functions were still a constant torture to Jonathan’s body. At that point, we had a hard conversation when he clearly expressed feeling like he was having more days, but not better days. He decided not to have shakes anymore. He would only do juice. Perhaps the juice would be better tolerated by his stomach. This was a last try. He was very tired.
But God’s grace is vast beyond compare.
Not only God gives us strength and sustenance each day, but He also showers us with unexpected, beautiful, undeserved gifts. On Saturday the 26th, our small group and our soccer friends teamed up to allow Jonathan the opportunity to watch our youngest play. It was wonderful. Jonathan felt well enough to make it to the soccer field. The joy of being surrounded by the kids he has couched for years by far outweighed the effort it took to be there. The 28th Jonathan had the opportunity to visit with several of his closest friends who came from different parts of the country, and even from overseas, only to chat with him for a couple of hours. It was an irreproducible moment of honesty and true everlasting brotherly love. This past weekend, we spent Labor Day with Jonathan’s parents and siblings as well as my mom. Jonathan talked, laughed, cried, played. Despite his limitations, he enjoyed his family. During these days, Jonathan has continued drinking natural juices as his only source of nutrition. The benefit his body has received is obvious and simply incredible. Jonathan’s GI track is working a lot better. His discomforts have decreased, he is awake most of the day, and his interaction has improved significantly. We can only see God’s merciful hand in all of these gifts. We keep asking for a miraculous and complete healing for Jonathan. But God’s love for us is so big that as we wait for Him to show the way He will provide for that complete healing, whether on this world or in heaven, He is granting us many smaller yet incredible miracles. He is granting us better days, and not only more days. One day at a time is a gift to enjoy and to celebrate.
Recently, I have thought about and better understood the words that first our doctor, and later nurses and social workers kept repeating when they explained hospice care to us: our goal is to take one day at a time. That goal is very real to us right now. It is not just what we say when we feel tired after a long day of work, or when we are overwhelmed trying to finalize a project, or when our children get the best of our otherwise normal personality. In those moments, the phrase is valid, don’t get me wrong. But under hospice care, that phrase is different because it is totally deprived of the possibility of switching gears. There is no further plan, there is no break. One day at a time has a very literal meaning these days. It is not easy, but surprisingly, it is helping us appreciate God’s new mercies in a deeper way every morning. We get our manna for today. There are no left overs. But fresh manna for tomorrow is guaranteed.
We celebrate these good gifts knowing that you celebrate with us. Thank you for your relentless prayers and constant demonstrations of love.
And God provided manna for today.
Around 3:20am, Jonathan woke up saying he needed help and immediately began to gasp for air. The episode was unexpected, long, scary. By the time the hospice nurse arrived, his breathing was still very labored, but not as distressed. The nurse put him on oxygen and gave him morphine and Jonathan was able to relax.
Jonathan is more stable right now, but this episode has initiated a process in which closing his physical eyes here to open them in the presence of His Savior is the imminent reality. A reality that is hours or maybe days away rather than weeks. It hurts deeply to face it, but God ministers to our hearts in a special way. He reminds us that HE will remain our anchor no matter what.
Our day has been uncertain, but we have not been alone. Our family and close friends have been with us. We feel loved, surrounded, cared for. But we hurt, our kids hurt, our families hurt. Continue to pray with us as the Spirit leads. He receives the glory.