Thursday, July 24, 2014


"Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls,
All your waves and breakers
have swept over me."
Psalm 42:7

The deepest part of me calls
to the deepest part of You.
In the middle of the rush,
in the power of the pounding waters,
in their threat to overtake me, I cry out...
And You find me.

The deepest part of me calls
to the deepest part of you.
In the roar and in the sweeping over,
in the powerful currents,
in the torrential cascade of life I call...
And we meet.

The deepest part of me calls
to the deepest part of you,
In the heaving, swelling foam & waves,
in the pushing & coursing strength of tides,
in the deafening sound of many waters,
my voice is silenced...
Yet You hear me.

This deep place,
this unanticipated point of encounter,
is only discovered when life
is waves & breakers & pounding water...
And as scary as this place sometimes is,
I am humbled,
and honored,
and amazed
to find depth with You here.

Deep calls to deep, Spirit to spirit.
Longing & fulfillment, need & provision,
confusion & understanding, 
meet in this mysterious & unexpected place.
There is revelation.
There is communion.
There is a deeply renewed hope & strength.
While this may seem incongruent,
It is my most profound & sacred season ever with Him.

The deepest part of me calls,
to the deepest part of you...
Oh! what I would have missed
if His breakers hadn´t swept over me!

Photo by:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014



We have received many wonderful notes from people this year full of love & encouragement.  Certain ones stick out in my memory because of some special message they had that seemed to go straight to my heart.

One such email arrived from our dear Canadian friend Carol who has been praying fervently & tracking closely with us through the blog & emails.  I was so touched & humbled to read that the Lord often wakes her in the middle of the night to pray for us....and she does.  She has raised the question more than once in her emails of ¨If God doesn´t seem to be answering the prayers we are making, is there another way we should be praying?¨ She is helping me to think more strategically about how to align my prayers with God´s heart.  And how can we possibly know what God´s heart is if we are not walking closely and listening intently to Him, not just telling him what we want for Jenna´s situation?

After reading the post THE TALK where we poured out our hearts about the difficult medical news  we had received about Jenna: that basically she is at the end of the road for traditional medicine and that there is no cure for her kind of cancer at this point (according to traditional medicine - you already know what we think about who has the last word!), Carol wrote reflectively about her prayers for us and some scriptures the Lord gave her to pray for us.  This is one of them:

¨I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?¨  Jn 11:25

I was pierced as ¨Do you believe this?¨ jumped out at me.  If I believe that Jesus Himself is Life and that He doesn´t see our lives as linearly as we do, nor does he see this earthly life with the same eyes as we do, what is Life?  Why, it´s Jesus Himself!  And what could be our truest & most fulfilling life but being with Him in a shared spiritual state for all eternity?  He is the One who resurrects!  This earthly life can seem long & involved to us but it is really so very temporary.  While this earthly life is NOT unimportant to Him, neither is it the point!  Real life is to come!

This gave me a new perspective on Jenna´s life.  While we tend to view a young person´s death (or potential death) as tragic, a life cut short, unfulfilled destiny or a waste, God does NOT have the same perspective.  Each of us will not live a moment more or less than what is ordained for us.  And that is a full life in God´s eyes.  How could we ever understand this?  We are so trapped by earthly eyes, mind and body that only our spirit can even begin to grasp by faith some of these heavenly concepts.

Ok, so I still don´t want Jenna to go and am fighting and believing for her life, ok?!  But my heart is more peaceful as I meditate on fundamental truths that are coming alive at this time for me.  My understanding of eternal is different, my understanding of life is different, my understanding of how much I don´t understand is different!  This journey is forcing our whole family to consider beliefs, values, truths and theology that we have perhaps taken for granted or never made very personal.  The heart-harvest in each one of us has been precious as we grapple with these things.

Some people don't want me to talk about death or even accept that it is a  possibility with Jenna.  I respect this as an expression of complete faith in healing and vision for the life that Jesus brings.  I accept it as an absolute refusal to accept human words that can be damaging & even a curse.  But I do feel the need to grapple with possibilities, face possible realities & come to the place of peace in these different scenarios...because I cannot claim that what I think is best is necessarily what God thinks is best.  His thoughts are far above mine.

Believing in Jesus is not a guarantee for healing.  Believing in Jesus doesn't mean that bad or painful things will not happen to you.  It does mean we live different, supernatural realities in the middle of a physical existence.  We have eternal tools at our grasp that others who may not believe in Him don´t have.  But we live in a messed up, sin-filled world that impacts all of us more than we know.  Thankfully, this world is NOT our home.  I don't plan to make it my home or Jenna's home.

Please accept my writings as my process, my pilgrimage, my feeble attempt to walk with the Savior.  A Savior I often don't understand but whom I love & believe incapable of doing anything that in the end does  not flow from a lovingkindness that we have little or no ability to define.

Today I am so thankful that, ¨He who believes in Me will live.¨ Really LIVE.

Photo by:  Stathis Stavrionis

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


There is something deeply significant about complete surrender to God´s will.  Our process to get there is profound and intimate.  It is unique to us and demands body, soul & spirit.  It is both completely human & entirely supernatural at the same time.

It is often as well a struggle, a war, a crossroads.  It is an altar of laying down, a summit to climb and a pinnacle of release.  It is a completely mysterious surrender of human understanding, human will & of human control.

My oil press?  To fully surrender my daughter´s life to Him & His sovereign, loving plan. Any parent knows that this is our greatest sacrifice.  God also holds this sacrifice as sacred.

I find deep comfort in the scene of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He struggled for hours in prayer, sweating drops of blood and knowing what was going to happen to Him said, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me."  His humanity cried out in stark honesty, ¨I don´t want to do this!¨  Yet His deep spiritual surrender to God´s bittersweet plan was total:  ¨Yet not as I will, but as you will.¨ (Mt. 26:39)

The thought of Jesus´ night spent in that garden has taken on even greater significance since I read that Gethsemane means ¨oil press:¨  Surrendering to His will is not an easy process.  It is a painful pressing out of self (my will, my understanding, my fears, my loves, my ideas of the future, my ¨rights¨...) in exchange for the pure oil He produces  from the surrendered heart.

Unlike Jesus, we don´t know ¨all things.¨  But sometimes I don't think it is an advantage to know the future! And it certainly would exempt us from the need to trust God on many levels.  I sense a deep,  essential need for each  one in our family to wrestle with this and come to a place of surrender to His love, His plan, His glory, His understanding.  We need to each, in our own way, style, maturity and age, come to terms with our beliefs about God's goodness & sovereignty.  Releasing our desire to understand is a very deep place.  Choosing to believe in His deep love for Jenna - no matter what that looks like - is holy ground.

The two girls & I were talking the other day about desiring what God wants and Dani said ¨I don´t know if this is a sin or not but I think I must not desire God´s glory very much...I just don´t want His glory more than I want my sister alive!¨

We are human.  We make human confessions like this.  Even Jesus did.  This is an honest part of the process, a necessary aspect of our personal oil press.

So how do we get there?

I suspect it is unique to each of us. Everyone is unique in the first place & their walk with God is subsequently unique as well.  God uses particular - and sometimes uncommon! - tools in each of our lives.  It cost Jesus a night of wrestling in a garden with His Father.  It probably cost Him other times of wrestling before that point that went unrecorded.  It cost Israel 40 years in the wilderness.  It cost Jacob a physical fight and a lasting limp.  It cost Abraham his son (almost).  It cost Jonah 3 days of forced reflection in a smelly, big fish.  It cost Mary a normal family life.  The price & process of surrender  has many faces, many paths, many unexpected, creative God-ways to help us get there.

This will cost me many nights in an ¨olive press¨ .  I need to lay down my own human understanding of my daughter´s destiny, all the joy she gives me, what she brings to our family, the irreplaceable daughter & sister that she is, the gifts & heart that she brings to this world, the love & fun she brings to many friends, the uniqueness of Jesus that she shows to those around her, the hope she can bring to the nations, the love she could give to some man, the wonderful mother she could be, the disciples she could raise, the future she could impact...Laying all this down so that His will can be done (not even knowing what that is), stretches before me like a giant, like a battle I am unprepared for, like a sacrifice like none other...

Oh Lord, please help me walk this road!  Please hold me, counsel me, shepherd me.  Please let my love for You exceed all...especially my human understanding of what is best.  Let my love for You exceed my love even for those most dear to me.  Let me withhold nothing from you - not myself, not my daughter.  Help me in this oil press of surrender...

Help each one of us in our family to come to this place...that holy place where we realize that she has always belonged to You, only to You...and has been lent to us & to this earth for the time and purposes that You ordain in Your love & beautiful plan for all of us.  We hope her years on this earth will be many...¨Yet not as I will, but as You will.¨   (Mt. 26:39)

Photos by:   Matthew Shugart, Marco Bernardini, Chris Pencis and Micha84.

Friday, July 11, 2014


This group of young people has blown me away.

They are from Málaga & they have stood by us.  This is extra special because Jenna has lived away from here for 5 years now...their immediate & unconditional love from the very anouncement of her diagnosis has been remarkable.  Jenna has friends all over the world from her crazy multi-cultured upbringing and they have also brought undeniable & remarkable support.  But having people close by has filled a special need and has meant the world to her...and to us.

They have gathered here at our house various times in the last 6 months & I have spoken of it under the page Blessings.  But I wanted to highlight them for their significance to us as a family; they have truly been precious to us.

After last night, Jenna said she felt both ¨honored and humbled¨.  I think that´s how we all felt.  To have people gather around you who have travelled sometimes up to an hour or more on a bus to get there and then spend two hours crying out to God in love & worship and in desperation is mind blowing.  We truly have felt honored by their efforts in prayer...both at our home and throughout the week, checking in through a whats app prayer group for her.  Many of them have visited her, brought her gifts of encouragement, come to play games & distract her when she was low, sent her texts & called her to see how she was doing...all of them, old friends and new, have endeared themselves to us.  But this last night was just too awesome to not share in some special way - while at the same time, almost too precious to speak of.

We gathered in our basement where we have spent so many beautiful hours in prayer with so many different people.  But this was different.  They gathered for US.  Just to be with God & each other and to focus on Jenna.  We worshipped in song, prayed, interceded, cried, spoke prophetic words, layed hands on, wept for the long-asked for miracle, spoke words of life, broke any power of the spoken medical ¨sentance¨ over her, surrendered ourselves to His loving & perfect will, gave words of encouragement, declared scriptures that were appropriate, prayed over her again & again.  It was beautiful, powerful, anointed, precious...and there was not a dry eye in the house.  I only have a heart of thanks for these beautiful people.

We boldy asked God for a miracle here, in Spain, in Europe, in the West.  Why should it always be only in 3rd world countries that we hear these stories?  Why can´t God move here?  Surprise the heck out of the Drs in Málaga?  Show His glory in southern Spain??  We won´t let God go until He lets us see Him HERE!!!

Here they are...

There were special words of encouragement spoken to Jenna...and Martin & Stef shared how they were praying with another group of young people earlier that week & how they had prayed for Jen & painted some of the things they had received for her.  Stef presented them to her.

They each wrote on the back interpretations of what God had spoken to
 them about during the prayer time for precious.

This one with grapes over a river was from Stef & its special significance 
about the kingdom of God was explained to Jen.

Here was a climactic time of asking for complete healing & miracles
 in Jenna´s body...she is sitting on a chair in there somewhere!

Here Dani remains on to continue praying & crying out for her sister´s life...

There literally was not a dry eye in the house.  We went through the box of 
kleenex and on to the tp!  Tears are precious to God...and to me.

As if all of this wasn´t enough, one girl left us a basket of homemade cookies.  This meant so much to me because a lot of Spaniards are not bakers - and especially not of cookies!  So she was really thinking of us & went to a special effort to make them.  They were absolutely perfect, too.  :)  Gracias, Ana!!

What can I say??  We are honored by the prayers of so many who rally around us.  It blesses us, humbles us, encourages us, inspires us....and helps us to press into Jesus all the more!

I so want to see something special for their sake.  They are longing to see God do something out of the ordinary.

May their faith encourage us all!

Gracias, jóvenes de Málaga!!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Just a thank you today,
a grateful heart.
To have her home
makes me the happiest Mom alive.
Being together,
under the same peaceful roof.
It might seem simple
but I am learning
in this war 
about the simple & the daily,
about the moment & the unpretentious.
I am seeing some things
for the first time...
Suffering is giving me new eyes.
Things previously unnoticed
are now remarkable.
Things untreasured
are now cherished.
Oh to have this heart every day!
to see the joy
to delight in the small
to cherish
to love
to thank
to be
to live.

Just a thank you today,
a grateful heart.

Photo by:  marsmetn tallahassee

Monday, July 7, 2014


                                                                                                                                                    I saw the incense rise last night.
In the middle of the night it woke me.
Startling, intriguing, amazing.
Entranced, I saw spirals rising to heaven
from around the globe,
from every continent.

It was the prayers of the saints!
Precious & fragrant,
steady & insistent,
daytime & nighttime,
smoky beauty

Oh Lord, would You honor their faith?
Would You please show them Your glory?
 Would You reward their sacrifice of love & tears?
Would You bless each one who has entered into our family´s battle?
Would You let them see You move?

Thank You, Lord, for the rising incense,
for the offerings of faith,
for the warfare in the heavenlies,
for the songs & the whispers,
for the childlike & the old,
for the irrelevance of denomination & religion.

Hear the saints, Oh Lord.
hear their desperation,
hear their pleas,
hear their faith,
hear their widow-like insistence,
hear their child-like simplicity,
hear the loud ones & the silent ones,
the bold & the gentle,
 the confident & the trembling.

I am one of these, Lord.
Hear us and act, we pray.
Show Yourself to the world!

Photo by:  isado 

Friday, July 4, 2014


So we had THE TALK.

The one every parent dreads where the Dr. calls you into his office, closes the door and tells you raw, heartbreaking facts and information about your precious child.  Your reactions are unrehearsed and you feel like you´re in a movie watching your life in slow motion.  The Dr. watches you carefully, delivers the news and shakes your hand.  You walk out together, life changed forever...

Things he said still rattle through my brain two days later...

¨your daughter´s situation is very serious¨
¨treatable but not curable¨
¨we can´t give her chemo because of her nutritional situation but it wouldn´t make a difference anyway¨    
¨you need to choose between quality of life and extending her life¨
¨the lifespan for a metastasized gastric cancer is 10-12 months¨
¨you need to decide how much to tell her and your other children¨
¨only a miracle can change this¨

This can´t be happening!  This isn´t what he was supposed to say!  This isn´t how things were supposed to go down.

The Drs. have been so positive until this point.  From January on, the surgeons told us, ¨We are going all out for a curative treatment.¨ And we all believed it.  Even they did.  Because even though she had Stage IV Gastric Cancer with an extremely high mortality rate, her metastasis was fairly ¨light¨; that is, no organs were touched, no adjoining nodes were affected and this was amazing.  Only the original umbilical tumor which was completely removed, and 3 small spots which they removed during the surgery when they took her stomach with its original cancerous ulcer were dangerous.  The localized thermal chemo bath during surgery gave further power to killing anything within the abdominal cavity. Anything missed would be taken care of by the follow-up chemo begun 2 months after surgery.

But chemo was not begun.  The serious nutritional issues which we have charted in these pages have lead us all down a much more difficult & complicated road than anyone expected.  Nutrition became the priority and we have fought for it with all our might.  No one anticipated the difficulty her intestines would have in recovering their motility.  No one could foretell that 2, 3, 4 and 5 months after surgery, chemo would still not be happening.  Of course it makes sense, knowing the evil multiplying power of cancer, that it would now be growing and showing its face again.  But now there are no medical recourses.

Does any of this change our faith for a miracle? No.  Does any of this change our belief in God´s sovereignty?  No.  Could God be directing us away from chemo to preserve Jenna from its devastating side effects?  Is there a natural path of healing for her?  A supernatural path for her?  We don´t know.

Not knowing is very uncomfortable.  We yearn to know.  We yearn to help our kids understand.  We long for their faith to survive the attacks on God´s goodness and love to them and our family.  And now we are just trying to assimilate this news, to cry when tears come, to pray desperate prayers, to pray peaceful, yet exhausted prayers.  To pray at all.

We´re going to keep walking.  We´re going to keep hoping.  We´re going to keep being honest with God & others.  We´re going to keep loving each other however this unfolds.  We´re going to keep grieving.  We´re going to keep wondering & pondering.  We´re going to keep believing in miracles.  And mostly we´re going to keep believing that GOD ALWAYS HAS THE LAST WORD.

The human sentence over Jenna is one thing.  The God sentence over her clearly reads:

(Ps. 87)

Photo by:  Addison Berry