Friday, June 27, 2014


When the Drs recently opened Jenna up to do the jejunostomy, they were surprised at how good the intestines looked. ¨They were like new, as if she had NEVER had an operation in her life,¨ the surgeon said.  We were all thrilled!  Isn´t that so awesome?!  It was definitely in the miraculous category.

But the jejunostomy has not produced the results we all hoped for - a viable means of giving her liquid nutrition without all the vomiting.  It went great for a couple days, but then the vomiting started up again - and hasn´t stopped for days now.  She´s exhausted & we´re exhausted.  A balance between nutrition in & intestinal movement out is not happening.  The Drs have tried everything they can.  Consulting some Drs in the US has reassured us that this case is indeed mystifying.  The oncologist here said he had only seen one other patient have such problems with their intestines after a localized chemo bath during surgery.  It´s normal at first but now almost 5 months have passed since her big Feb 3rd gastrectomy.  Her state is NOT typical.  Things should look a lot different - but the reality is, they don´t.

The medical plan is to move to TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) at home.  It´s more risky than nutrition going into her gut because it´s intravenous and goes into a main artery.  This is a last option.  But they plan to train us on it & help us manage it at home.  She needs to stabilize again & being at home is good for everyone´s overall emotional & physical state.  Eventually, we will try the J-tube again s-l-o-w-l-y.  We hope that in time she will be able to move completely to the J-tube and of course, eventually to eating completely by mouth.  No one ever knew it would take this long.

So the intestines appear to be at least aeshtetically healed but they are not functionally healed yet.  WE NEED TO PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR PART 2 OF THIS NEEDED MIRACLE.  One Dr said, ¨It´s as if they haven´t woken up yet from surgery.¨  Her intestines are, frankly, almost paralyzed.  They are asleep!  They are almost non-functional!  But, guess what?  I know Someone whose touch wakes up, breathes life into, restores original purpose & function and causes the lame to walk (or intestinal muscles to contract)!  Would you pray specific prayers with us for Jenna´s intestinal function to be restored?


Rom 13:11 ¨The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we believed.¨

Mark 5:41  ¨He took her by the hand and said to her, ´Talitha Koum!´ (which means ´Little girl, I say to you, get up!!´)¨.

Luke 5:24  ¨´But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.´¨ So he said to the paralyzed man, ´I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.´¨

Luke 8:50  ¨Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, ´don´t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.´¨

Luke 6:19  ¨and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all. ¨

Thursday, June 26, 2014



for rays of light, of hope, for sunrises & rainbows 
for the piercing of the clouds, for fresh wind
for smiles, for joy, for lightness
for answers, for the proof of today´s faithfulness 
for today´s manna
for enough tears to be collected, enough lessons learned
for wonders to be shown 
for the sorrow that turns to joy & for the mourning that turns to dancing
for the Higher Purposes to be accomplished
for this moment´s mercies, for this day´s grace
for pages turned, for the new chapter
for the greater glory

Photo by:  splash<3

Tuesday, June 24, 2014



Isn´t it uncanny how victories are so often followed by a quick, humbling defeat?  Or how a ¨mountaintop experience¨ can be followed up by a huge temptation?  Or how joy can so quickly dissipate with a sudden unexpected sorrow?

In this last week we have tasted a bit of that.

On the heels of good news - Jenna´s recent surgery, this movement forward, the ¨like-new intestines¨ and the creative ways the Lord spoke, came the devastating news for us of a friend´s death.  Rebecca had been fighting at another local hospital here in Málaga for her life and so many of us were praying like crazy for her and her precious family.  When she passed away, we were all shocked.  She was only 19.  We have been so sad for them, so numb at this sobering news.  And in some ways, it rocked    Jenna´s world.

Questions flooded all of our minds:  What guarantee does she have that she will live?  That she will actually be a cancer survivor?  How does God decide who lives and who doesn´t?  Which family rejoices and which family weeps? For the first time in this journey, she really came face to face with the fear of death.

When I stopped to think about it, it made sense.  It´s not that her condition could not possibly end in death; the statistics for Stage IV gastric cancer survival are not encouraging.  But the medical team from the very beginning has been going all out for a ¨curative treatment¨.  They have believed from the beginning that she can be cured - but the treatment had to be aggressive.  So we have all been relatively unafraid of death (not of suffering but of death).  But when someone else your age dies, it seems to bring it into the realm of possibility again.  At least the reality that there are no guarantees seems to rise up before you & taunt you.

We have prayed against this fear & talked openly about God´s sovereignty and people´s (well meaning but sometimes careless) statements about how ¨she will most certainly get well¨ or how ¨we´ll see how great this will all turn out¨.  Well, who but God can say that?  It´s good to stay positive - but not to use it as a form of denial either.  I don´t know what it´s like to truly fear for your child´s life - I mean really, really watch them struggle between life & death.  I cannot say how I would react.  But right now I can say that Jenna´s life & health & well-being are in God´s hands and I cannot control that - nor can anyone else.

Last night she had a bad night.  She was vomiting between 3 and 5am.  They are doing everything they can to get her intestines moving at the same rate as the nutrition is going in but it is taking some doing & a certain amount of experimenting to find the balance.  It scared us both.  ¨What if this J-tube doesn´t work?¨ she asked me with tears in her eyes this morning.  In those deep pools I saw reflected my own fear.  We talked & prayed.  But humanly speaking, we really are running out of options.  We have to get to a place of stability with the nutrition.  It seems like God is giving us an opportunity now for this...but, what if?  What if it´s not going to work?  What if the vomiting is going to continue??  These are thoughts that keep trying to haunt us.

These are giants for us this week.  

So we choose to look to God, we pick up some small stones of life experience with Him, we make declarations of truth over her & her situation and we walk out to face them with only a slingshot full of mustard-seed faith.  It doesn´t feel like much.  Our hope is: these actions have scriptural precedent.  May God help us focus on His ability in this battle & on His ¨perfect love (which) casts out all fear¨ (1John 4:18).

¨David said to Saul, ´Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine
your servant will go and fight him.´¨ 
1 Samuel 17:32

Photo by:  Sam UL

Saturday, June 21, 2014


Dearest Shepherd,

I find myself without words for the long-awaited breakthrough which came this week.  At first I didn´t even want to tell anyone; it was just too precious to blurt out!   I pondered it in my heart, savored the good news, wondered about Your choice of timing and choice of how and when to speak to me.  My heart was overflowing with melodies & gratitude, joy bubbling up with or without verse, contentment flowing, underlying it all, laying down a peaceful bed. Heavenly flower petals spilled down over me, flooding my environment with perfume.  I felt special & loved & singled out in a sacred moment – a kyros moment You chose to act in within Your perfect kingdom plan.

Thank You for Your perfect timing.  Thank You for lessons learned.  Thank You for holding me up so many weary days.  Thank You for helping me to walk with my kids in their faith walk without having to have all the answers.  Thank You for giving Jenna special grace.  Thank You for Your quiet but steady presence in all of this.  Thank You for my husband´s steady hand and careful attention to us in a complex year.

Lord, I bless Your work that I cannot see.  I bless the people around us so that they can see Jesus in spite of our simple humanity.  I bless the pieces You are putting together for the extension of Your kingdom in this world.  I bless the doctors´ understanding in the coming months of the situations yet to arise.  I bless my children and how their lives will be affected forever by this year.  I bless my    husband´s faith & our tenderness as a couple to bless others with the same compassion & unselfish caring that has been shown to us.  I bless even the difficult things to come, the suffering still to be endured, the unanswerable questions & the losses.  I bless Your work in and through us and its ripple effect throughout the world on others.  I bless all You do, even when I can´t see it.

Thank You for the special things of this week: the ways You spoke to me, the surgery for Jenna, the ¨like new¨ intestines she sports, the grace for Jordan at school & in futbol, the amazing provisions for Dani and how You are speaking to Bruce & comforting him while he is far from us.

I´ll love You forever.  As David wrote in Psalm 74:12, ¨God is my King from my youth.¨ This is true with me and I can think of no greater joy & privilege in this life than to pilgrim with You.

I am Yours always!


Thursday, June 19, 2014


After pouring out our hearts for so long for a breakthrough in all of Jenna´s nutritional issues in her journey to wellness, something cracked on Tuesday, June 17th.  For the first time in a while, we all went to bed content, joyful & grateful.  It had been a long time since there had been a day with good news...I literally have just been savoring it, pondering what God is doing and almost unable to speak or  write about it!  It was a precious day.

Many of you read my heartfelt lament on Sunday.  That psalm of personal lament captured many of our feelings in the last months - our doubts, our theological struggles, our deep desire to believe & be close to Him in spite of it all.  So many of you have cried out with us.

On Monday I saw the following brief devotional thought on fb from our former pastor in Buenos Aires:

¨Let God say Let there be Light¨

      It just simply said this:  
¨God made heaven and earth with His power, there is nothing too difficult for Him.
  If today everything is dark in your life, let Him say: Let there be Light.¨   
- Carlos Mraida

Since I have been praying for Light and Discernment for the doctors, it caught my attention.  I meditated all day on the power of God to just speak out and illuminate the entire universe.  I began to pray HIS LIGHT and the power of His WORD to bring about change, to bring LIGHT to Jenna´s situation.  We were desperate to penetrate the darkness of our situation, to bring His brightness, His presence, His glory into our circumstances.  A couple of friends came to the hospital that morning and as Jenna was getting an endoscopy, we prayed for these things together.

The next day, before I got to the hospital, I was in a store doing an errand.  As is typical, the radio was on in the background and I wasn´t paying much attention, but all of a sudden, at the end of a song, with music behind it, a deep voice said (in English): ¨And God said, ´Let there be Light.´¨ I did a double take! But before I could blame my imagination, it was repeated again:  ¨And God said, ´Let there be Light.´¨  That´s how the song ended.  Now I have no idea what that song was, the artist, if it was all in English or only the speaking voice...I don´t even know if I was the only one who heard it or if everyone did... but this was the secular radio!  In Spain!  It was really random and also quite cool.

Later at the hospital, I told Jenna about it and she said, ¨Well, if something great happens today, that is gonna be a really cool story!¨ And by the end of the day, something great really did happen...

By the time I left the hospital around 7 to go home and take Jordan to futbol, things were still the same and we were even disappointed because the endoscopy showed no further clues about why she´s vomiting.  We had run out of tests to do.  But when I got home, Jenna called and said, they had had a medical team meeting (her team being comprised of GI surgeons, Endocrinologist/Nutritionist and Oncologists) and that they had decided to do a Jejunostomy on her the next day!  I was stunned.  We had asked for this months ago and they said she was not a candidate for that because of the chemo damage in her abdomen.  They were leaning toward parenteral nutrition at home to keep her nourished but it holds more risks because it goes through the bloodstream and they can´t do chemo at the same time because of how it lowers your immune system.  We were thrilled with this news and since it came on the heels of all the thoughts, prayers and even radio messages about Light, we are taking it as the breakthrough we have been waiting for!

As if that weren´t enough, when I got home Dani told about her exciting 2 leads on a summer job.  (You need to know the unemployment rate for the 18-25 year-old bracket here is over 50%!)  So this is miraculous to us.  Also, after struggling in math this last trimester and doing really poorly on his last exam, Jordan absolutely aced the make-up exam that day.  That was a real victory for him!  So all three kids had some very special things done for them by the God of Light on Tuesday.  :)

The next day Jenna´s surgery went fine.  The really cool thing, however, was that the surgeons said that when they opened her up, her intestines were COMPLETELY NORMAL AS IF SHE HAD NEVER HAD AN OPERATION!  When I told Jenna that later, she started crying and said, ¨Mom, that´s just what I prayed for!  That my intestines would be made new!¨  So healing is happening.  Her intestines may not be functioning normally yet but they are apparently on their way!

We pray this will usher in a new season...for Jenna to get nutrition without throwing it up, that her esophagus and the place that seems to give the gagging reflex will get a chance to heal and that she will soon be able to eat by mouth again.  That would be a major victory.

We pray that as she has a way to get consistent nutrition that the chemo can be reinstituted. It´s now been more than 4 months since the surgery and there are some nodules visible to the eye (they noticed that yesterday during surgery).  It´s imperative to have a working system for nutrition for her and simultaneously be doing chemo to kill any remaining cancer cells.

We feel like we´re heading forward again, that something broke in the heavenlies on our behalf and that change is on the horizon.

Let God say, ¨Let there be Light!¨

Photo by:  Anissa

Sunday, June 15, 2014


  Lord, it´s been so long!
Many people have poured themselves out for us!
Praying & loving on us.
I have nothing to tell them.
Sometimes I don´t even want to go out
because everyone asks about her
and I have nothing new or encouraging to say to them.

Nothing has changed.
No breakthrough has come.
No healing, not even forward movement.
We have gone backwards.
We are stuck.
Doctors are telling us they are stymied.
This is Your big chance to shine!
But You are silent. You are still.
I am starting to really dislike Your silence.

People want to help us.
But there is only one thing I need,
one thing I care about,
one thing I go to bed thinking about
and wake up thinking about:
that my daughter would be able to take in nutrition
and move on in the chemo process.
Our friends cannot give me this.
Right now the doctors can´t even give me this.
Only You can give me this.

I believe this is not hard for You.
I believe You love her.
I believe You´ve heard the thousands
of prayers gone up for her.
So why don´t You do something?
Why can´t we see answers?
If You can raise the dead with a word,
Can´t You just resolve the vomiting in my daughter so we can move on?
Do you like hearing the same prayers again & again?
Is there some kind of ¨prayer-o-meter¨ and we haven´t hit the magic number yet?
How long, O Lord?!

We have no other god but You.
For us, You hold the words of life.
If You don´t show up and help us, we are lost.
We will have no hope.
We will be like those who have no faith, no god.
This is Your reputation at stake.
Make Yourself known to those around us, O Lord!

You have met many other needs -
for strength, encouragement, finances, practical help, 
support for my kids and more.
It´s not that there is no thankfulness in my heart.
But there is one main plea on our hearts...
One main request we repeat...
One longing that dominates our minds & prayers...

Please fill the hands that we lift to You,
in our desperation,
in our lament.

Monday, June 9, 2014


There are a lot of faith questions on a journey like this.

I´m ok with questions.  It´s the fact that as time passes, I have more & more of them and no answers!

Sometimes I get tired of that.  Some days I just want answers.

I have questions mostly about believing for miracles.  Having faith - or maintaining it - sometimes feels like an effort.  I   don´t know that it´s supposed to feel like that.  But to keep believing steadfastly for something - like healing - takes mental & spiritual discipline for me and if it doesn´t happen I feel a let down.  And let´s face it, none of us want to be let down.  I want to have faith but I also want to be peaceful.  We´ve been asking for a long time for healing for Jenna.  Lots of people have asked on her behalf.  Multiple times.  With mustard-seed  faith or huge faith, charismatic and non-charismatic, strangers and dear friends, people who have lived miracles and people who still hope to...they have all asked.

I have been all over the map.  Some days I´m in the ¨Name it and claim it!¨ mode and other days the ¨If it be Your will, Lord...¨.  Sometimes I proclaim healing over her and other days I just rest & ask quietly for grace to walk it out another day.  Sometimes I battle with spiritual forces and other times I let the rest of you do it.

I believe He can...I´m just not sure He will.  I cannot pretend to know the mind of God.  But you know what?  I´m ok with that - really.  As long as His presence goes with me, I will go anywhere - even through suffering...even without miracles.

But I still have this nagging question in the back of my mind:  why is it that in the NT, everyone who is recorded as coming to Jesus for healing is healed?  We have certainly come to Him (like lots of other people in need).  It seems so simple when I read it.  It seems so simple that I believe it.  Yet I seem caught somewhere between teachings of the widow & the judge and issues of perseverance in prayer, the unbelieving disciples who didn´t see healing because of their lack of faith and those in the crowds who weren´t healed because Jesus focused on others by the road, in trees, by boats, in homes and other ordinary places.  He listened to the Father, aligned Himself with His will & performed miracles accordingly.  But what does this mean for Jenna? 

I identify with the sick boy´s father when he cried out, ¨I do believe; help my unbelief!¨ (Mk. 9:24) or with Martha when she said, ¨Lord, if you had been here, our brother would not have died.  But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.¨ (Jn. 11:21,22)  I DO believe, I just don´t understand the outcomes right now.

I would love a chance to step out of the boat & see healing.

Will I get the chance?

In the meantime, He is whispering things in my ear...things like, do you see the miracle of joy in your home in spite of the hardship?  Do you see the miracle of grace & unexplained strength in your daughter during some terrible days & weeks & months?  Did you notice the happiness & encouragement brought through the community around you through gifts, meals, time, notes, flowers, favors and untold hours in prayer?  Do you see the miracles around you every day?

Yes, Lord, I do.  I see them.  And I treasure them.  Please help me not to condition how you answer our prayers, to set up hopes for something that may not be Your perfect plan.  Help me to ask & believe with discernment but leave the results up to You.  If You are both sovereign and good, all is well.  Whatever answer You give is in Jenna´s best interest.  Even if it´s suffering.  Even if there are medical mistakes.  Even if we don´t understand.  Even if some keep insisting there will be physical healing...and we don´t see it.

Faith questions are coming down to this:  I just want Him.  More than miracles, more than healing, more than a story.  I really only need His presence...

...and that´s really all she needs, too.

photo by:  Charles Nadeau

Sunday, June 8, 2014


When all is gone -
energy, strength, resolve
I come to You.
When all is draining away -
joy, happiness, peace
I come to You.
When all is dry -
wisdom, ideas, encouragement
I come to You.
when all is darkening -
perspective, focus, vision
I come to you.

I need you on so many levels;
I cannot keep up with life´s demands,
Life has not stopped for me!
Calendars turn over,
People come & go,
Projects have due dates,
School continues with it´s demands,
My family has ongoing needs
that have nothing to do with cancer...
So do I.
And there are the ongoing needs
that have everything to do with cancer...
these are so important.

I need the One who gives Life.
Who breathes Life into all of this,
Into all of me & those I love.
You are my Source
And that is why...
I come to You.

Photos by:  @doug88888 and Sashamd

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


On the Altar Moment of this First Day of Chemo

Today I give You my girl.
I stand at an altar moment in life,
A sacred eclipsing of the light.
As darkness approaches,
I place her there.
My firstborn.
The first one to steal my heart.
She is strength & sweetness all at once.
And she is braver than I.

She climbed right onto the altar herself,
barely trembling!
She looked back at me with peaceful hazel eyes.
It was I who pulled her off, terrified,
and not at all ready.

Quietly, she took my hands
And her eyes told me:
¨Everything´s gonna be ok;
He´s got this.¨
I helped her back up there.
And blessed her.

Today I give You my girl.
I stand at this altar moment -
the beginning of chemo.
With a sacred eclipsing in my mother-heart,
I whisper another prayer of surrender,
And I place her there.

Monday, June 2, 2014



So we finished PRAY JENNA 24 here in Spain on Sunday morning and we are so thankful & blessed to have seen so many participate!  We know of about 165 people who signed up for a half hour prayer slot and 270 who ¨attended¨/participated.  Many others wrote assuring us they were joining us in some way.  THANK YOU.

A special thanks to Kent who envisioned this, organized it, fed us ideas of what to pray for and joyfully responded to each and every one.  Even his efforts to use Google Translator for all of our Spanish speaking friends did not go unnoticed!  (My personal favorite phrase from Google was ¨Perdón mi española¨!!  jaja)

And as special words & verses & impressions keep trickling in from those of you who shared something that you sensed while praying, we continue to be blessed and sense a residual, continual effect of the blessings still floating down.

Did Jenna experience a miraculous healing?  No.

I admit I had built up my hopes and my faith was flying in expectation of something big over the weekend.  But when I heard her in the bathroom Saturday night throwing up, my heart started sinking.  And I thought, ¨If not now, Lord, when?¨ I continue to profess that I believe He can heal her whenever He wants.  But in the day to day realities, I just really need His presence.

There has been the miracle of encouragement, of joy, of increased unity, of growth in prayer, in faith and in numerous other ways.  I pray that our eyes would be opened to see spiritual realities of the consequences to all of your heartfelt prayers.


Sunday´s reality was a trip to the ER because Jenna´s NG tube got obstructed and we could not get it unobstructed.  They couldn´t in the ER, either.  Nor did they have the tube she needed to be able to put a new one in.  They wanted to check her in just to keep her hydrated but she settled for receiving one bag and going home.  Since she can´t keep anything down, this means no food or water until they find a tube.

Monday´s reality was an appointment with an oncologist who told us they are ready to start chemo.  In spite of her circumstances, she is stable and the clock is ticking.  It´s been hard to balance.  I continue to feel so frustrated that they can´t seem to control these symptoms of vomiting & nausea that have sabotaged her upward weight gain.  She is (miraculously) holding onto her minimum weight.  Her body may continue to take a long time to adjust...they don´t want to wait much longer.  I´m nervous.  But she was happy.  She wants to move forward.  And if she gets worse, they can stop treatment for a while.  

They decided they want to check her into the hospital for 24-48 hours and give her IV fluids, parenteral nutrition (by blood) and change her NG tube and get the enteral nutrition going again to give her a boost just before they start chemo.  Wow.  I can´t believe this is happening all of a sudden.

She didn´t want to go back to the hospital until after 6pm because from 4-6pm she had an appointment with a couple who wanted to pray for her healing & minister to her.  She didn´t want to miss that opportunity.  I pray for her even now, as I sit in this café waiting for her, that God will continue to meet her and that He will go before her in this next important stage.

Who knew that the 24-hours of prayer would come just before this final stage, chemotherapy?  Who knows what blessings are still trickling in, or are yet to be unleashed or to be fulfilled today?

Only the One who holds her in the palm of His hand.

We are eternally grateful to all of you.