Tuesday, December 30, 2014


For the last week our family has been knocked down by a very aggressive upper respiratory virus.  Its particularly hard on us in that while we are contagious we can't be near Jacob. He is very vulnerable to this type of illness and it would be detrimental if he contracted it.  So we have to stay away - its the hardest thing to do ever - but we must.

Our friend Debbie Allen (who is as close to a ministering angel as a human can get) has stood in the gap for us like Nehemiah for the last few days.  She sent Lorrie and I the message below today.


Sunday, 2:30pm.
I arrive. Jacob's been wiped out with fever all day. It's been like this for a week. Jacob is in 'mummy
Much Needed Rest
mode': wrapped scalp to soles in a sheet and blanket. He feels weak, exhausted, with severe chills. He hasn't eaten all day. Yet even though he fees this bad, I hear a muffled 'thank you' as nurses come and go.

Sadly, Jacob is about to feel worse. The nurse has just finished infusing another chemo. The hope is that this one will knock down the leukemia raging through Jacob's brand-new bone marrow. The chemo won't eliminate the cancer, but might give him a break from the fevers. Last night's was nearly 105.

However, the side effect of this chemo is nausea. Though Jacob wears an anti-nausea patch, and the nurse infuses an anti-nausea medication, it's not enough. She brings in a third.

Sunday, 6:30pm
After diligent work on the part of Jacob's nurse, his fever dips enough that he feels better. His temperature is 'only' 101. Instantly, Jacob is up, alert, smiling. He feels well enough to open some Christmas presents from his family.

Lorrie, Marshall, and all the kids have been down with a respiratory virus and fevers of their own all the last week, preventing them from visiting Jacob. Sadly, germs don't take a holiday so that families can be together for Christmas.

Jacob opens his gifts. Soft slippers for his fluid-swollen feet. A hoodie and sweatpants. A video game from grandma. And two pair of the one thing he asked for: skinny jeans.

We manage to temp him into eating two popsicles and half a bratwurst--the only food he's consumed all day.

The nurse changes the dressing over his central line, an important, but uncomfortable process of peeling off adhesive over an open wound, and swabbing it with a stinging solution. Thankfully, this happens only once a week.

Sunday, 8:00pm
The fever returns with a vengeance, and Jacob's window of feeling good disappears. 103, heading to 104, where it will hover all night. The nurse comes in with a bouquet of massive syringes in hand. Each medication will be infused through his central line. Jacob goes back into 'mummy mode', and we try to keep him from layering on too many blankets against his extreme chills, as they'll increase his fever.

Sunday, 9:30pm
Time for the meds that have to be swallowed. This is tough, as Jacob's nausea is still present, and he's reluctant to unwrap himself and sit up. He also has to take the dreaded nasal spray, an important medication, which works to prevent dangerous fungal infections. He has to pump two squirts in each nostril and hold it there. However, the solution burns his sinus passages, and it's just one more thing for a sick boy on a rough day.

Sunday, 10pm, 11pm
Monday, 12am, 1 through 6 am
The night passes slowly. Every hour, and many times, ever quarter hour is interrupted by beeps. One beep means his oxygen mask slipped off and his O2 levels are falling. Another means the IV bag is running low. Still others alert the nurse that one of the many medication infusions is finished. The nurse checks Jacob's temperature and blood pressure at least every hour, and sometimes every 15 minutes after certain medications. Then there are bathroom visits and cold compress changes. Jacob's nighttime is often busier than the day. It's a wonder he gets any rest. Thankfully, the staff is so courteous and sensitive, lovingly and quietly doing their job to care for Jacob.

Monday, 10am
A volunteer comes in to check on Jacob. She stops in to see him every Monday. The love she has for Jacob is evident in her words and on her face. She prays for him morning, noon, and night.

She tells me two things.

1. Jacob is the glue on this floor. He is beloved by the doctors, nurses, and staff. He has made a deep impression in the lives of those who work here.

2. Marshall and Lorrie's words and actions, and Jacob's attitude have started a ripple effect. She says those ripples have become waves of impact--and their effect has not even reached the shore.

Please continue to pray for this family walking a road none of us would volunteer for. Pray for physical healing so they can spend time with Jacob. Pray for God's presence and discernment as they navigate the next steps. Pray for the fevers to ease.

And pray for those waves to reach every shore God intends.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Suffering reveals Jesus

We readily accept the good from God.  Why then do we have such a hard time accepting suffering? Me included - I have a hard time with it.  Why do we think that any of us will somehow avoid it?

Suffering reveals Jesus - that is why none of us will avoid it.  It is, believe it or not -a mercy.  It drives us to the King when we are too stubborn to go on our own.  It strips me of all of the things that I place between Jesus and me - so its just me and him.  It is only then that I am ready to accept the mercies Jesus gives me during the suffering  -and I am certain the blessings after suffering.  Not just for ourselves but for others.

As I write this, Lorrie and I are processing what Jacob's transplant team has just told us.  His Leukemia is back.  It is aggressive and it will likely take his life.  We wonder "why?" to ourselves. He has fought so hard, so...bravely.  He has endured so much - we have endured so much.  We've never been alone.  You should know that we have encountered Jesus in this valley -in ways that could not have happened under any other circumstance.  I praise the one that conquered death for that.

We are asking you guys to pray for us once again.  Specifically we need wisdom.  We are facing some unfathomable choices and an unfathomable conversation with our son.  Pray for peace - for Jacob, for his brothers and sisters and for Lorrie and I.

Marshall and Lorrie

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Our Treasure

Christmas. The birthday of God made flesh, who took the form of man to rescue us. On the night of his birth, he received three gifts from the Magi.  Gold, that likely provided for the family of Joseph as they fled Herod's murderous rage to Egypt. Frankincense, an incense that was used in the temple - to worship.  And the most poignant to me - myrrh.  Myrrh was used to prepare a body for burial.  I often wonder if Mary understood what the gift of myrrh foreshadowed.

The word says that she "treasured these things up in her heart" and I am sure that the memory of this gift came to mind as they prepared Jesus for burial - while perhaps not yet understanding that in three days he would conquer the grave and in so doing open up a way for all of us to become exactly what God meant when he "meant" us.  This is Christmas: the great gift of setting things right by God - when we could not.

We all have things that we treasure in our heart.  We want you to know that we treasure you.  Your graciousness to us.  Your generosity.  Your unceasing prayers for us as we walk through the valley.  You know - we have never been alone.  You are treasured.  I've said it before - you all look alot like Jesus to me.

Hold each other today.  Love Jesus for coming to our rescue.

Merry Christmas from:  Jacob, Naomi, Hannah, Noah, Joshua, Lorrie and Marshall

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

What Would Jacob Do? - A dear friend's impression after a visit

Friends, we recieved an encouraging email from a dear friend who has walked with us through the valley since we entered. Her perspective on Jacob invited us to step outside of being the a parent of very a sick child and see him how others see him.

Debbie has often visited and stayed with Jacob since this started - so that Lorrie and I can rest and reconnect. She's been an incredible blessing to us. we hope this blesses you as much as it has us.

Debbie's Message:
Jacob on a 4 hour pass from the hospital

After spending a few days with Jacob last week, I can't get him off my mind. Stuck in the same four walls of a hospital room for weeks on end, suffering through virus symptoms, and trying to hold down medications, yet he seems so upbeat and cheerful.

I had a thought: is Jacob putting on a brave front for his family? Is he protecting them from his true feelings of fear or discouragement?

I decided to ask.

We happened to be talking about the two viruses he's fighting. Viruses that leave spots on his head, his chest, and--they just discovered--on his retina. Here's what I remember of the conversation.

Me: So Jacob, when the doctor tells you about new viruses, and uncomfortable symptoms you'll experience from the meds, how does that make you feel? Is it discouraging?

Jacob (working hard on a new art project): Well, I could think about that all the time. But when that happens, I just tell myself, "Jacob, it's time to work on your legos." or "Jacob, go call someone or watch a movie." or "Jacob, try to make your nurse laugh."

And he does.

Make the nurses laugh, I mean. They love to walk in his room and see his mega-watt smile.

The day I came, I had stopped at the Worthey home to pick up some of Jacob's clean clothes. It was 3pm. Naomi was on speakerphone with Jacob. They had been on the phone since noon. I said hi to him, and told him I was on my way to Denver.

When I walked in his hospital room an hour and a half later, the first voice I heard was Naomi's.

"You two are still on the phone?" I asked.

Their phone call lasted until 7pm. Just a brother and a sister hanging out together, except they're separated by 162 miles.  Jacob told me later that when he called, Naomi was playing a video game. "Why are you playing a video game?" he asked.  It turned out that Naomi was feeling down. Probably sensing the tension from the news you guys had received from the doctor the night before.

Jacob told her, "Naomi! Turn off that tv. Go for a walk. Find someone to talk to. DO something instead of feeling bad." And she did. She talked to her brother for the next seven hours. And he made her laugh. I heard it over the phone lines.

He talks about heaven. How cool it would be to go there. And minutes later, he talks about what he wants to be when he grows up. Places he'd like to visit.

This is not a kid who's giving up.

Even when he has to take the dreaded gray pills (There are two. They are huge. And as his sister, Hannah, says, "They smell like a skunk." She's right.). When Jacob takes those pills, he closes his eyes, clenches his fists, and concentrates. "My brain," he says, "tells me, 'don't swallow those'." But he knows they're part of his chance to get better. Even though he's tempted to throw them in the trash, the nurses trust him. He'll do it, even if they threaten to reappear. Even if they come up, and he has to take them all over again. Even if he starts to throw up, he'll grit his teeth and swallow it all back down. Just so he doesn't have to swallow them again.

This is some of the most incredible bravery you will ever see.

So, think about what would Jacob do?
He would stay positive.
He would encourage others.
He would plan for the future--despite how bad things looked.
He would bring joy to others.
He would love Jesus.

Jacob does these things every day. And that inspires me.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Old Friends

As you know we had a rough week.  We're not done - he's not done.  We're working the options with the help of the warriors on 7 East.  But if we've learned anything about walking in this valley its this - God gives you glimpses of the things that give HIM pause...

What is it about connection?  About history?  About experience?   It's this:  Old friends being reunited via Naomi's 13th birthday (You have to be 13 to be on the floor).  Enjoy this - we did today.  Read this to understand (click here) exactly how this friendship started.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

"Are you sitting down?"

“Are you sitting down?” Yes. “His clone came back”. What? “His clone came back.” What does that mean? “It means that the cause of his leukemia – the MDS has come back.” Airplane noise. I found out 2 hours ago that the great gamble – the generous gift from our unknown 20 something is failing.

Stunned. I am on a plane coming home from a meaningless business trip to Boise. I get the news in an airport waiting on a delayed plane to arrive to take me home. I’m sitting on this plane trying to process what the transplant doctor just told me. The people around me banter about…well – nothing. Jet noise. Laughter -while I try to process this. “Do you want to tell Lorrie – or should I call her?” Stunned. You call her. You explain it. I can’t. “Do you want me to talk to Jacob?” No let us get our head around this.

Thoughts rushing as the Jetstream slips over the wings. What do we do? He told me the options – but I don’t remember what he said. Something about maybe inducing graph versus host or host versus graph or graph versus leukemia and something about more chemo – maybe radiation….are you sitting down?” I’m sitting in a plane going back to Denver. What do we do? What do I do?

I’m tired. We are tired. He is tired I am sure. He just wants to get better. As I sit here I wonder if I am going to have to tell him he’s not going to get better. How do you do that? I have no idea what is going to happen. I do not know if my son will live or die. We descend. Twenty minutes out. I’m going to take a cab to the hospital and tell Jacob that I love him. He’s not seen any of us for 2 days. Sickness in the house. This is so hard. All of this.

I got to the hospital and realized I left my phone in the cab and headed up to Jacob’s room. There he was. Waiting on Dad and tacos. He asked me about Boise. I read to him out of Romans. We laughed. This morning the cab driver from Senegal brought me my phone. I cornered the doctor that has had leukemia before. “What do we do?” I asked.

I’m listening for His voice in a very high wind.