Ups and downs

 

Friday. Jonathan was feeling a little better as he woke up. After three days of antibiotics, we felt that the treatment was working and we would be starting oral chemo over the weekend. We headed to the hospital to receive his IV chemo. He rested in the afternoon and then he perked up and had dinner and a fun evening with our small group and our family visiting from out of town.

Saturday. Not too bad. We had more dear friends visiting and Jonathan had a few hours chatting and interacting with them in the late morning. He rested in the afternoon, but his GI discomfort got worse and it took away his appetite, so by dinner, we started doing shakes to supplement his diet in the hopes that he would get enough nutrition to get him ready for treatment. Saturday was not a fun day for his belly, but we were able to complete the around of antibiotics and felt hopeful.

Sunday. We ventured to church and felt incredibly blessed. Both, the Word preached and the music were worshipful, fitting, and encouraging. Our pastor led us to pray for one another and we came forward. It was a emotional time of candid petitioning and genuine Christ-like love. After church, and with full hearts, we gathered around the table for lunch with our extended family. Jonathan enjoyed the time, but not for too long. He felt nauseous and exhausted and had to sleep for the rest of the day. We had hoped to start chemo that night, but he couldn’t.

Monday. We kept trying to do everything possible to improve Jonathan’s diet to accommodate for good nutrition and to provide relief from the acid reflux sensation that has been aggravating him so much. It seemed to work, and even though his energy was very low and he was only awake for a few minutes around meal times, he was able to eat some breakfast, and a some lunch, but by dinner his stomach couldn’t hold anything anymore. At that point, his doctor determined to press the pause button on tumor treatment to let Jonathan get more stable. That was concerning, considering the critical area affected by the tumor, but indeed a necessary measure.

Tuesday. Both, Jonathan’s energy and his appetite were quite low from the start of the day. He slept all day, he had GI discomfort, a headache, and was only able to drink a couple of shakes for meals. His exhaustion were so severe that he choose to speak little or not to talk at all. He was no longer resting, he was rather lethargic. By late afternoon, it was decided that he needed to be admitted to the hospital to make sure he get proper hydration and to determine what exactly is causing all of his discomforts and how to help him.

BUT GOD. In the middle of these stressful days, the Lord’s provision has been faithful and plentiful. Our Elders have brought meals, friends and family have traveled hours only to hug our neck, keep us company, and run errands for us. Jonathan’s mom arrived in town Sunday night and she is helping around the house and with the kids -they are in excellent hands. Our small group has been a source of support, strength, and key help on decision making.  Friends, from both church (Brook Hills) and school (Westminster) are helping with meals, cleaning, playdates, school supplies, and coordinating carpools for the beginning of the year. Notes of encouragement in the form of texts, phone calls, emails, and cards. And then, the most important gift, your prayers! Each time someone tells me they are praying, I feel the Lord whispering in my ear, “I love you”. Thank you. How would we do this without you? You are God’s hands and feet. Literally. Will I ever be able to pay you back? I trust the Lord will and I desire to take the opportunity to show this kind of love to others.

Please, continue to pray for healing for Jonathan.

Pray for wisdom for the doctors and for clear leads to figure out how to help Jonathan.

Pray for our children. The seriousness of their dad’s condition is now dawning on them.

Pray for our hearts and minds to be anchored in God’s truth and for us to run to Jesus with all our feelings -even the ugly ones.

We are now bleeding into Wednesday. Jonathan has had two bags of fluid, labs, and they are doing scans and ultrasounds. Hospitals don’t sleep. Jonathan has remained asleep through all of it it. Thankful for both.

I’ll keep you posted as the day goes by and I find out more.

Treatment Ahead

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you,a s in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  Psalm 63:1

I am so grateful for the book of Psalms. Perhaps nowhere else in the Bible can we see such a wide spectrum of emotions. From joy to lament, the Psalms reassure us that God sees our raw humanity and He gives us freedom to run to Him just as we are. What a comfort to know that our emotions are not a threat to God’s presence, but an invitation to meet with Him! And He meets with us.

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food.  Psalm 63:5

Today was a better day for Jonathan. We are encouraged by this improvement and we are grateful for our doctor’s decision to wait on chemo and treat for a stomach infection.

We met with the radiation oncologist today and he confirmed that the tumor has moved to a very crucial area; the brain stem. He thinks that we still have a window of opportunity to radiate this area before the tumor goes deeper in the stem and the damage is worse. This is a very scary scenario, but we continue to see God’s hand. And having a plan of treatment is an incredible provision. He will have 10 radiation treatments starting next week – similar to what we did back in February.

Tomorrow Jonathan will have his IV chemo as scheduled. This is the chemo that he has had every two week since December 21. Thank God, this chemo has never given him strong side effects, other that fatigue for a couple of days following the infusion.  Pray that his body will tolerate it well as it has done in the past.

Saturday, he will finish the course of antibiotics and at that point, his oncologist will evaluate if he is ready to start the oral chemo. Please, continue to pray that his stomach will heal completely and that he will be as strong as possible to take the chemo.

God has sustained us and continues to pour His blessings in many ways.

My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.  Psalm 63:8

We love you and so appreciate each one of your prayers.

Quick Update

Thank you for your prayers. God is sovereign over everything. He knows our past, our present, and our future. Yet, He delights in the prayers of His children. Prayer grows our faith and our relationship with Him.

A quick update – Jonathan did not start chemo as planned. Because of the increased discomfort on his stomach, yesterday afternoon his doctor sent an order for him to take a course of antibiotics to try and improve his overall health before starting chemo.  We have seen a slight improvement today. He is still very tired, but has had more and longer awake times. He had a couple of visitors today and enjoyed that time. We are hoping to see even more improvement by this evening.

Tomorrow, we have an appointment with his radiation oncologist to evaluate if he can/should take more radiation as a part of the current treatment.  And then, Friday, he is scheduled to receive the every-two-week IV chemotherapy that he has been taking since December.

Continue to pray for a miraculous healing; either gradual or overnight. God is able.

Specifically, pray that the antibiotics will be beneficial in combating whatever has made his stomach sick.

Pray that his strength will improve significantly over the next couple of days so that he will be ready to start the oral chemo.

Pray for wisdom concerning additional radiation.

 

Honestidad y Esperanza

Esta mañana, durante un breve tiempo de devoción, el Señor nos recordó que la Palabra de Dios nunca niega la realidad. La Biblia es honesta acerca de cuán deteriorado está nuestro mundo, sin embargo, también está llena de la gloriosa esperanza que tenemos en Jesucristo. Paul David Tripp dice:

“La honestidad no aplasta la esperanza, pero tampoco la esperanza niega la honestidad”

¡Cómo necesitamos escuchar esta verdad en medio de una situación difícil!

Durante las últimas 36 horas Jonathan no se ha sentido nada bien. Creemos que su cuerpo aún se está recuperando de la gastroenteritis que le afectó en México. Nos estamos enfocando en ayudar a que su estómago vuelva a estar saludable y balanceado, pero el malestar y el dolor generalizado que siente no le han permitido estar despierto por más de unos cuantos minutos a la vez. Anoche debió haber iniciado su tratamiento de quimioterapia oral, pero simplemente no tuvo fuerza para iniciar.  Estamos orando y esperando que comience a sentirse mejor muy pronto. Sabemos lo importante que es iniciar el tratamiento.

El viernes, sus exámenes de laboratorio mostraron que sus niveles están normales. Eso nos alienta mucho. Dios está protegiendo el cuerpo de Jonathan, pero por el momento no tiene energía y es difícil saber con exactitud qué está causando esto y qué más podemos hacer para ayudarlo.

 

Por favor, oren por una recuperación milagrosa de su sistema digestivo para que pueda empezar la nueva quimioterapia.

Oren por sabiduría para saber cómo navegar estos días difíciles.

Oren porque nuestros corazones NUNCA pierdan la esperanza; que el glorioso regalo de la vida, la muerte y la resurrección de Jesus mantengan nuestro ojos y corazones fijos en Cristo en medio de la realidad que estamos enfrentando.

No estamos solos.

 

 

Honesty and Hope

This morning, during a short devotional time, the Lord reminded us that the Word of God never denies reality. The Bible is honest about the brokenness of this world and yet it is full of the glorious hope we have in Christ. Paul David Tripp says:

“The honesty does not crush the hope, but neither does the hope negate the honesty”

We truly need to be reminded of this in the middle of a difficult situation.

Over that past 36 hours Jonathan has not felt good at all. We believe that his body may still be recovering from the gastroenteritis he got in Mexico. We are focusing on helping his stomach to get healthy and balanced again, but his overall ache and discomfort is not allowing him to stay awake for more than a few minutes at a time. He was supposed to start his new oral chemo last night, but he simply couldn’t do it. We are praying and hoping that he will start feeling better soon. We know it is important to start taking the medicine.

On Friday, his lab work showed that his levels are good. We are encouraged by that. God is protecting Jonathan’s body, but his energy is gone and it is hard to tell what exactly is causing it, and what else we can do to help him.

Please, pray for a miraculous recovery of his digestive track and for strength to start the new chemo.

Pray for wisdom as we continue to navigate these difficult days.

Pray that our hearts will NEVER lose hope. That the glorious gift of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus will keep our eyes and hearts fixed on Him in the midst of the reality we face.

We are not alone.

Home Front: What we tell the kids and the beauty of a godly wife.

One of the most common questions on days like today is, what do you tell your kids. For starters, we have a very open and ongoing conversation about medical realities and implications of my health journey, so we process out loud with them on a regular basis. Today, as soon as we got back from the hospital, we all climbed into the bed and I began by reminding them that God reigns and rules both, when we receive good news and when we receive bad news. He doesn’t love us more or less, but He is present with us in all of it, and we can always trust Him. So we told the kids that the tumor is growing into a very dangerous part of the brain and that this might cause worse side effects on the left side of my body, and that we will start more chemo and maybe radiation. We told them that I might get sicker in order to try and make me better. We asked them if they had any questions about this, and then, we listened to them.  Ultimately, we trust that even my journey with brain cancer is divinely chosen to be a part of their journey in life as well. So we pray for God to give us the strength, and we pray for God to heal because we know He can and He does both. Then, we tried not to suffocate them and let them talk about it at their own pace. I am not prescribing this for everybody else, I am just honestly answering the question what do I tell my kids. The only thing I would advise is to ground them in the truths that God is in control of all and that God is good.  Those are anchors for all of life. And then, show them that you believe it even when it is hard.

I have been married to a beautiful and godly wife for 17 years and yet there are some things that have been more clearly revealed through this difficult journey with brain cancer. Today, I watched Karla process this news and its implications for her. I watched her joyfully accept that this meant greater responsibility in caring for her husband who would have greater physical limitations while battling with cancer.  I watched her joyfully accept this as the journey that God has us on together. I watched her patiently push me around in a wheelchair, wipe my drooling face, and oversee the workers putting handicap accessibility bars in our bathroom; things that I wish were not part of her daily reality.  Today, I watched her tell her principal that she could no longer come back and do the job she loves (Latin teacher) and the school she loves (Westminster) because she needed to prioritize caring for her husband and family and couldn’t do both well.  Today, and just about everyday on this journey, I have watched her put others’ needs before her own; a beautiful reminder of Christ’s love for us as we see in Philippians 2. So, although today’s news has been hard, and I am sure that the journey forward will be harder, I am thankful that in the mist of the journey God opens up our eyes to see deeper. And today I have been reminded of the beauty of a godly wife. Thanks, Karla. I love you with all my heart.

~Jonathan

 

Flexibles

Hace años, en uno de nuestro primeros viajes misioneros juntos, Jonathan le enseñó a nuestro grupo una forma simple de recordar un gran principio en la vida. Durante una sesión de entrenamiento para el viaje, puso una liga alrededor de la muñeca de su mano y mientras la estiraba repetidamente nos dijo: “nos estamos preparando de la mejor manera que podemos, pero cuando lleguemos al campo, vamos a tener que ser flexibles.” Creo que he guardado esa idea en mi corazón todos estos años y Dios ha usado muchas veces esa imagen de la liga estirándose para recordarme que la vida no está bajo mi control.

Ayer deberíamos haber volado a Portland para estar 8 días conviviendo con toda la familia Bean. Pero nuestros planes tuvieron que cambiar de última hora. Llegamos de México el jueves en la noche y Jonathan no se sentía nada bien. Algo en la comida le cayó mal durante nuestro segundo día en México y se pasó la mayoría de esos días en cama. Su lado izquierdo continuó empeorado y tuvimos que usar una silla de ruedas todo el tiempo que estuvimos allá. Su energía se desgastó, pasó mucho tiempo dormido y desafortunadamente también sufrió varias caídas. Para el Sábado en la noche, después de esperar y no ver mucha mejoría, llamamos al doctor y el nos sugirió adelantar la siguiente resonancia magnética para el miércoles 12 de Julio.

Hemos tenido que ser flexibles, definitivamente. Estamos haciendo ajustes en nuestra casa como colocar barras de metal en el baño y estamos aprendiendo a usar la silla de ruedas. En medio de estas duras realidades Dios permanece siempre fiel, proveedor, consolador, poderoso, firme sostén. Hemos recibido llamadas, textos y oración de muchos de ustedes; gracias. El Señor les ha usado para animarnos. Durante las últimas 24 horas Jonathan ha podido comer mejor, trabajar un poco y en general no se ha sentido tan exhausto. Esto nos ha animado mucho.

Por favor, continúen orando con nosotros mañana. Estamos rogando al Señor por un buen reporte y por corazones que descansen en Él a pesar de todo. Confiamos en Su bondad en todo momento y nos sentimos agradecidos de saber que podemos traer todo delante de Él: nuestras emociones, nuestros gozos, nuestras esperanzas, nuestros temores. Sus brazos lo abarcan todo.

 

 

Flexible

Years ago, in one of our first mission trips together, Jonathan taught our group a simple little way to remember a big important principle in life. During a training session in preparation for the trip, he placed a rubber band around his wrist and as he stretched it back and forth, he said: “we are preparing in the best way we can, but when we arrive on the field, we will have to remain flexible.” I think I have carried that idea in my heart ever since, and God has used that rubber band image numerous times to remind me that I am not in control.

Yesterday, we were scheduled to fly to Portland to spend 8 days with the entire Bean clan. Our plans changed last minute.  We arrived from Mexico Thursday night and Jonathan was not feeling well at all. He got food poisoning during our second day in Mexico and spent most of his days in bed. His left side got even weaker and we ended up having to use a wheelchair at all times. His energy was depleted, he slept a lot, and unfortunately he also fell a few times. By Saturday night, after not seeing much improvement, we called his doctor and he advised to move the next MRI up to this Wednesday, July the 12th.

We have had to remain flexible, for sure. We are making adjustments in our home like adding handicap rails in the bathroom, and we are learning to use a wheelchair. In the middle of these hard realities, God remains always faithful, provider, comforter, strong, sustaining. We have had many of you call, text, and pray for us constantly. Thank you. The Lord is using you to encourage us greatly. Over the last 24 hours, Jonathan has been able to eat better, work some, and has felt less exhausted in general. We are encouraged by this.

Please, continue to pray with us tomorrow. We beg the Lord for a good report, and for hearts that rest in Him regardless. We trust in His goodness at all times. We are so grateful that we can bring all to him; our feelings, our joys, our hopes, our fears. His arms are big enough.

 

Update & July travels

On May 31st, Jonathan had an MRI after we called the doctor to inform that he was experiencing a regression in the mobility of his left side. The MRI was not conclusive. The images showed “something”, but our oncologist felt very inclined to say that the spot looked more like a necrosis (dead tissue) caused by the radiation treatment, than like tumor growth. We waited a little over a week to receive confirmation from the radiation oncologist who agreed with our neuro-oncologist’s opinion. That is where we are. We will have another MRI on July 19th and we are hoping that at that point the doctors will explain the effects of having a necrosis and the steps we need to take concerning that.  In the meantime, Jonathan will continue getting a chemo infusion every two weeks. We are extremely grateful that the side effects of the chemo remain minimal. Jonathan’s mobility and control of the left side of his body is very weak and it makes everyday tasks difficult, but he is pressing on and he is trying to keep the routines of life and work as normal as possible.

This past Sunday, he had the opportunity and the privilege to preach at church. Both, the preparation and the actual preaching were challenging since Jonathan can’t type nor can he stand on his feet for more than a few minutes at a time. In addition, Saturday morning he sprained his ankle badly as a result of his limited mobility to walk.  But, God’s grace and faithfulness was evident. Jonathan was able to preach three times. What a wonderful gift!

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

You can watch the sermon here: Play

During our last visit, the doctor encouraged us to keep our travel plans for July.  Jonathan will go for his chemo infusion this Friday and on Monday we will travel to Mexico to spend a few days visiting family. We will come bak in time for another chemo session and then we will join the extended Bean family for a trip to Portland. We are excited, yet we realize that the pace of these trips will be different.

We keep walking in faith, constantly reminded that our lives are hidden in Christ. He is our stronghold.

In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
    let me never be put to shame;
    in your righteousness deliver me!
Incline your ear to me;
    rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
    a strong fortress to save me!

For you are my rock and my fortress;
    and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
    for you are my refuge.

 

We are very grateful for your faithful prayers, for your words of encouragement, for your expressions of love. Please help us pray for a clear MRI on July 19th and for guidance for our doctors as they look for the best way to help Jonathan’s mobility.  Pray that God will restore Jonathan’s body and that he will remain strong in Him despite the challenges he is facing. And pray that our upcoming trips will provide rest and time well spent with our families.

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 

 

UPDATE ON BECCA: Our friend, Becca Davis began her chemo treatment last Friday. This week has been rough, but she is coming out of the worst part and hopefully she will have a few days of relief before she receives the next treatment. Please, help us pray that God will use these drugs to eliminate her cancer completely.

 

Verano

Esta primavera ha sido muy ajetreada. La escuela y las actividades de los niños han mantenido nuestro calendario lleno y nuestra casa sin mucho avance desde que nos mudamos. Pero hemos estado juntos, hemos hecho todo en familia y hemos disfrutado cada, juego, carrera, torneo y función…

A principios de Abril, Jonathan tuvo una Resonancia que mostró imágenes estables, ningún crecimiento nuevo y hasta reducción del tumor original.  El plan fue continuar con una de sus quimioterapia cada dos semanas y realizar una nueva resonancia el 5 de Junio. Esas noticias nos llenaron gozo y desde entonces hemos dedicado nuestra atención a estimular y fortalecer el brazo y la pierna de Jonathan a través de terapia física y terapia ocupacional.  Los tratamientos de quimioterapia has ido muy bien y han tenido efectos secundarios mínimos.  Para Semana Santa Jonathan había recobrado una cantidad significativa de movilidad y control. Estaba logrando levantar el brazo por encima de su cabeza, caminar con mayor estabilidad y hasta asir una carga ligera con su mano.

La Gracia de Dios ha sido abundante. Estamos muy agradecidos hasta por las mejorías más mínimas y por el cuidado médico al que tenemos acceso.

Pero esta semana has sido dura. Hace unos días notamos una regresión en la movilidad de Jonathan. Hoy, su mano y su pierna izquierdos se ven muy debilitados, así que decidimos llamar a su doctor.  La respuesta del medico vino pronto. Le indicaron iniciar la toma de corticosteroids otra vez y adelantaron su resonancia para el 31 de Mayo. Estamos agradecidos que tener este tipo de cuidado médico, lo consideramos una provisión de Dios. Pero es difícil no sentirse ansioso pensando en las posibles causas de esta recaída. Por favor, oren con nosotros mientras esperamos que llegue el miércoles. Oren que la movilidad de Jonathan mejore y que podamos continuar con sus terapias.

¿Quién es Dios, si no el Señor?
    ¿Quién es la roca, si no nuestro Dios?
Es él quien me arma de valor
    y endereza mi camino.

Esta semana no ha sido difícil sólo para nosotros. Estos días han sido especialmente pesados para nuestra querida amiga, Becca Davis y su familia. La familia Davis, la familia Souders y nosotros hemos formado un grupo pequeño desde el 2009. Juntos, hemos caminado las dificultades de un tumor cerebral en uno de los hijos de los Davises, el cancer de Jonathan y ahora el reciente diagnóstico de cancer de mama de Becca. Por favor, ayúdennos a orar porque el tratamiento de Becca sea muy efectivo en erradicar su cancer completamente. Oren por su familia durante esta temporada y oren por nosotros para que sepamos servir a nuestros amigos con el mismo amor que ellos nos han servido nosotros.

Toda la alabanza sea para Dios, el Padre de nuestro Señor Jesucristo. Dios es nuestro Padre misericordioso y la fuente de todo consuelo. Él nos consuela en todas nuestras dificultades para que nosotros podamos consolar a otros. Cuando otros pasen por dificultades, podremos ofrecerles el mismo consuelo que Dios nos ha dado a nosotros. Pues, cuanto más sufrimos por Cristo, tanto más Dios nos colmará de su consuelo por medio de Cristo.