More Family Time…

Yesterday was another day filled with family time – here are a few pictures that I haven’t blogged yet. I was so wrapped up in conversation that I didn’t take very many pictures when we were with my dad’s family!

My grandpa made his famous ribs for us and they were delicious as always!

Cuddling with Great-Grandma Pat while Great-Aunt Sandee watches…

Great-Grandpa Ken…


Here are a few other pictures of her from this weekend…

    

Aunt Susan (my dad’s sister) and Uncle Rob came up from Fresno…

Tori went shopping with Grandma!

    

These three were taken by our cousin David, who came up from Marin County to see us…

  

Bethel Redding

 

When your child is dying you will do anything to save their life.

Though I have admittedly been a skeptic of God healing through specific people in the past, I have opened my heart to the possibility in hopes that God is trying to show us His power in a new way.

So, when we planned this trip to Red Bluff, we decided to make a trip to Bethel on a Saturday morning for their Healing Room ministry. What could it hurt? 

Many people had told us about Bethel before we had even planned to come. Then, we had what appears to be a divine appointment on the flight from San Francisco to Redding.

We sat in the front row of the plane on that flight, and there was a woman across the aisle from us by herself. During the flight, the flight attendant saw us feeding Tori through the tube and asked us questions about Tori. 

The woman across from us was listening, and when we got to “baggage claim” (in quotes because Redding’s airport is tiny) she approached us. 

She said she had heard us telling Tori’s story and that she is on staff at Bethel. She asked if we had heard about their healing ministry and we said that we had and that we were planning to go.

She exchanged contact info with us and asked us to text her when we arrived so that she could bring us right in, and that she would arrange a special prayer team for us because of the life and death nature of our situation. She also prayed over Tori right there.

So, my mom, Brennan, Tori, and I went this morning at 9:15am and she kept her word. 

She then told us this morning that she was originally supposed to be further back in the plane but that she had felt God tell her to move to the front. To be by us. 

The team prayed over Tori for complete restoration and healing, for victory over Krabbe. They then prayed over Brennan and me for healing of our DNA so that we might be able to have more healthy children. We haven’t had our genetic testing yet, so I pray that is because God is going to heal us as well.

We heard from at least four friends before they knew that we were going up to Bethel, and they all had dreams in the past few days about Tori being healed. Jesus, let it be so!

While we know that God alone knows His plans for her, we feel hopeful after these experiences. We know that His will is perfect and whatever He has planned is good. Now we wait to see what He will do.

Time with Lesa’s Family

Because I live 3,000 miles away from my family, we only get to see them about twice a year. That has been especially hard on me because my family has always been really close and to have them across the country while Tori is sick has been difficult.

With the exception of my parents, the rest of my family has only met Tori one time before today. We brought her out to California for Thanksgiving but haven’t been back since.

To say that we are grateful to be here is an understatement.

Two of my mom’s sisters traveled to get here (one from Sacramento and one from Portland), and one lives in town. We have been able to see some of my cousins as well – two came up from the Bay Area today. My dad’s sister and her husband are driving up from the Fresno area tomorrow as well. Busy week!

Here are some photos of Tori with some of her great-aunts:

    

It was especially important to bring Tori out to see her California great-grandparents again. All four of them are living. She will see the other two Saturday night and we will post pictures then. Tonight she saw my mom’s parents.

I have been so blessed to having such a loving, close family and I don’t take them for granted.

We will be back again in June for my family’s 54th annual family reunion on the California Coast – Tori’s first time to the beach!

Helicopter Ride

Today I had lunch with a dear friend from high school with whom I have reconnected since Tori became sick. 

Her husband and his family operate a helicopter business in town and they offered to take Brennan and me for a ride over Red Bluff today! 

Here are a few pictures from my phone. It was such a blessing! Thank you Kyle and Rachel, and thank you PJ Helicopters!

Rachel and I in the back 😄

  

My parents house!

  

The Sacramento River

  

We flew over the rodeo! 

        

Red Bluff High School

             

California Adventures

I am from California, for those just now joining us on this journey. I spent my first 25 years there – eighteen in Northern and seven in Southern – and then moved to Pennsylvania almost seven years ago. We try to come back every six months, and we brought Tori for the first time in November. Most of my family still lives in NorCal and it will always be home.

Once we found out her diagnosis we knew that it was imperative that we bring her out as soon as possible so that my family could spend time with her.

So, yesterday we made the journey across the country from Harrisburg to Redding. Three flights. 13 hours of travel. Worth every moment.

                

Tori did really well until the last flight from San Francisco to Redding, when she got fussy. But that flight was short so it wasn’t terrible.

We flew over my hometown and I had never done that before! It was so fun to be able to recognize things from the air.

                

It is SO good to be home, with my family and friends, and I am so thankful for all of the support we have here in Red Bluff.

We have a busy week ahead both with family and friends (some coming from Oregon and Washington, and more from Central California), but also fun things in town. It is Rodeo Week here (Red Bluff has the world’s largest three-day rodeo), so there are a lot of fun things around town to do!

        

There’s no place like home. ❤️

Remembering Renee…

  

The mother of one of my best friends passed away at some point over the weekend. It was unexpected – Renee was young, healthy, full of life. She was happily planning Shannon’s upcoming wedding and was so thrilled that Shannon had found such a wonderful man. 

One day here, the next day gone.
This was a stark reminder to me that none of us are promised tomorrow. No one. Now she is with Jesus – the best place for any of us – and the knowledge of that brings comfort to us because we know we will see her again someday.
Renee loved Tori so much and was one of her greatest prayer warriors. 
   

 

She provided so much support for us from the day of Tori’s birth and was so excited about her arrival. She brought meals for us and offered to help in any way she could many times. 
Though I am still in shock that she is gone, I realized yesterday that if the Lord doesn’t heal Tori here on earth, Renee will be there to welcome our baby girl and that made me smile. 
Please pray for Shannon and her family as they adjust to their new normal.

Faith While Grieving  

If I’m completely honest, I have to admit that the subconscious grieving process officially started on diagnosis day (February 13). But there were hints of its approach weeks before as we watched our previously perfect and healthy baby become a mere shell of who she had been. The Tori that we have now is completely different from the Tori we had until January 7th, and we have already grieved the loss of the original Tori for the most part. Of course, if the Lord takes her home, we will grieve again, but it has already started in some ways.

A few weeks ago a passage related to faith and grief came to mind – the account of Mary and Martha following the death of their beloved brother, Lazarus, in John 11: 1-44 (long, but worth it; emphasis mine):

A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick.

So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.” But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days.

Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?” Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.”

Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.” The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.” Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.”

When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss.

When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”

Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.” So Mary immediately went to him. Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 

When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!”

But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”

Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?

So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” (‭John‬ ‭11‬:‭1-44‬ NLT)

This spoke to me for a few reasons:

  • God will be glorified through Tori’s life whether He heals her here or not. He is working and we know that – we just hope His plan is to raise her from impending earthly death. What a worldwide impact that would have!
  • Even if His plan isn’t to heal her here on earth, we know she will be with Jesus forever and we will see her again someday. Like Jesus said of Lazarus, ultimately her sickness will not end in death – eternal death, that is.
  • Even in her grief, Mary and Martha demonstrated faith in God’s power. I had always read their statements as being accusatory – trying to make Jesus feel guilty for not being there; now, however, I think they were simply acknowledging their faith in who He was – God. Even as they mourned their dear brother, they still knew the truth about who Jesus was and they clung to it. They were mostly right in what they said- the difference is that Jesus could have healed Lazarus from anywhere, not just by being there.

    And that is what gives us hope: absolute faith that God can heal her from anywhere. It doesn’t have to be through one specific person or any special prayer. If it is His will, He will do so, whether through the medical community in some cases, or through humanly unexplainable healing.

And so we continue to pray, continue to hope, continue to wait, praying that Tori’s situation will be much like that of Lazarus and that Jesus will heal her here on earth.