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.

 

Summer

What a busy Spring this has been! School and children’s activities kept our calendars full and our house without much progress after our move. But we did it all as a family and we enjoyed every game, meet, tournament, and function…

At the beginning of April, Jonathan had an MRI that showed stable images, no more tumor growths, and even some shrinkage in the original site. The plan was to continue one of the chemo medications every other week until the new scan on June 5th. We rejoiced greatly in this news and focused our attention on stimulating and strengthening Jonathan’s arm and leg through physical and occupational therapy. The chemo treatments have gone very well with little side effects. By Easter, Jonathan had regained a significant amount of strength and control. He was able to lift up his arm above his head, walk with more stability, and even carry a light load in his hand.

God has been very gracious. We are extremely grateful for every small improvement, and the health care that we have access to.

But, this week has been a rough. Over the past week, we began noticing some regression on Jonathan’s mobility. Today, his arm and leg felt very weak, so we decided to contact his doctor. The response came back fast. They put him back on steroids and they have bumped his June 5th MRI to May 31st. We are very thankful that we have this kind of care. We see this as God’s good provision. But it is hard not to be anxious about what could be causing this set back.  Please pray for us as we wait for the MRI on Wednesday. Pray that Jonathan’s mobility will improve and that we will be able to continue working on his therapies.

For who is God, but the Lord?
    And who is a rock, except our God?
the God who equipped me with strength
    and made my way blameless.

This week has not only be rough for us. These days have been especially difficult for one of our closest friends, Becca Davis and her family. The Davis family, the Souders family and ourselves, have been in a small group since 2009.  Together we have walked through the difficult journey of the Davises’ son’s brain tumor,  Jonathan’s brain tumor, and now the recent diagnosis of Becca breast cancer. Please, help us pray for our friends. Pray that Becca’s treatment will be very effective in eradicating completely this cancer. Pray for her family as they walk with her during this season, and pray for us as we seek to serve our friends with the same love they have served us.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

Un buen mes

A ti, Dios mío, debemos alabarte en Sión; a ti debemos cumplir nuestros votos, pues tú escuchas nuestras oraciones.                                                                         

Salmo 65:1-2                                       


Gracias por sus fieles oraciones. El mes de Febrero vino y se fue. Ha sido un mes ajetreado, pero también ha sido un buen mes.

La tarde del 31 de Enero firmamos más papeles de los que podríamos firmar si juntáramos las firmas de tres años (el papeleo de la compraventa de casas es abundante). Esa tarde cerramos las negociaciones en la casa que vendimos y en la que compramos y dos días después nos mudamos. En todo el proceso de preparación, puesta en venta, empaque de pertenencias y mudanza, la ayuda que tantos de nuestros amigos proveyeron fue invaluable. La transición a nuestra nueva casa ha sido tranquila y ha permitido a Jonathan tener mucho mejor acceso en las actividades del día a día.

A inicios de Febrero Jonathan tuvo una resonancia al término del tratamiento de radiación y dos quimioterapias. La conversación que tuvimos con el neuro-oncólogo sobre la imágenes fue muy alentadora. La primera parte de las buenas noticias es que en este momento ho hay ningún crecimiento de nuevo de tumor. Esto es muy significativo dada la rapidez de crecimiento y la agresividad en el comportamiento del tumor que vimos en Noviembre. Además de esto, las imágenes también mostraron una clara reducción de tumor, lo que indica efectividad del tratamiento. El doctor considera que el propósito del tratamiento se cumplió y su recomendación es continuar con una de las quimioterapias (la infusión) cada dos semanas y repetir pruebas a principios de Abril. Dios ha permitido que Jonathan tolere muy bien la quimioterapia. Los efectos secundarios has sido mínimos y Jonathan ha podido continuar su trabajo y participar en la mayoría de nuestras actividades familiares.

Durante las últimas dos semanas hemos recibido una bendición adicional. Jonathan ha empezado a recuperar fuerza y hasta sensibilidad en el lado izquierdo de su cuerpo. Antes de que comenzáramos a ver mejorías, su brazo y pierna izquierdos estaban extremadamente debilitados. Especialmente el brazo, que Jonathan no lograba mover casi para nada. Es muy fácil dar por sentado todas la cosas que requieren ambas manos y los muchos ajustes que son necesarios cuando una de ellas de niega a cooperar. Pero aún bajo estas circunstancias, Jonathan ha sido un buen líder para nuestra familia. Ha tomado la difícil decisión de seguir adelante, de trabajar tenazmente y aún de encontrar el lado ligero de todo esto (les voy a dar una nalgada con la mano izquierda!,“bromea constantemente con los niños). Esto a permitido que nuestros hijos participen en una manera especial y nos ha dado mucha libertad de celebrar juntos hasta el menor de los progresos. Todos bailamos y saltamos cada vez que papi puede hacer un movimiento que el día anterior no era capaz de hacer. Gloria a Dios por estos regalos hermosos y por Su gracia inmerecida.

La última vez les pedimos que nos ayudaran a orar por:

La transición a la nueva casa…

El lado izquierdo de Jonathan…

Efectividad del tratamiento…

En su gracia, Dios ha escuchado nuestras oraciones y nos ha dado mucho más de lo sabemos pedir. Seguimos orando por continua mejoría del lado izquierdo de Jonathan. Por completa restauración de sus salud. Seguimos pidiendo a Dios que nos ayude a confiar en Él a cada paso del camino y a vivir agradecidos con lo Él elige dar.  Recientemente me topé con una cita de Elizabeth Elliot que aunque difícil, espero sea cierta para todos los que tenemos nuestra esperanza puesta en Jesús.

“El amor de Dios no protegió a su propio hijo. La cruz fue la prueba de su amor (…). Él no necesariamente nos va a proteger – no de aquello que conlleve el hacernos más como Su hijo.”