Friday, December 9, 2016

A Christmas Gift from Jesus

Every now and then Jesus sends us a gift. And as usual - its HIS birthday and he gives me a Christmas present. Jesus always blows me away with his generosity and thoughtfulness to me. Think about it - who else do you know that gives others gifts on HIS birthday? Naomi shared this with me just now - Jacob wrote down his story about his first several days of having a family. I'm not going to change it.

Let me set the scene.... Jacob has been home with us for less than a year. He's still learning English as he writes this on a computer at our table. He's likely sitting with his sister Naomi. And he's remembering his first few days with us in the Philippines. His English is not so good - but its perfect for you to hear this boy speak...its perfect for you to know something more about Jacob....


jacob wothey

jacob's story

chapter one

The Thunder

Hi. My name is Jacob. But my family change-

My name. Razel was my old name lets

talk about my story last two years

I was at Philippines. At the morning

I said to my self this could be good-

day!. I get my book to see what

should I do. I look there's nothing

and then I remember I didn't write

it. So I will find something to do . But

the rain is coming. So I will find-

something. And my friend's said

lets play monopoly. But I told them

I don't know how to play monopoly.

My friend said. I will teach you how

to play. I said to my new friend thank

so much. Then the thunder made a

big sound the rain came down. My

friend was scared of thunder I don't know

why . I ask. Why are you scared? Yes

why? I have friend a name Stan. He

goth strike by a lightning. I said

did he die? know my friend said.

After we talk mam Agnes said Raze l

get dress. I said why mam Agnes said

you will know wen you see it.

chapter two


After I get dress. Mom dole said

to me .someone is getting you !

Ho? The Wort hey. I said to my

self . Ho is wort hey? I ask . It was

Mitzi family!ho!i said. Well OK!

That's cool. i m happy that I m going

to be adopted I said that was a

Surprise! And it was lunch time and

Everyone run run and run. Because

they were hungry. I told them wash

your hands!but they didn't they gust

Ignore me they were super hungry.

I'm the only one ho wash hand

after I wash my hand's I went to the

dining room. I eat and eat . And

mom Agnes said it's a surprising

day. Yes it is. I said good if your

family is hare you will say your name

to your family. Agnes said. OK I said.

After lunch it's time for bedtime we

all ways go to bed after lunch

I don't know why?but It still raining

and then my family. I was surprise

I can't belief I got adopted that I saw

last four years. I saw Mitzi. Noah.

Joshua. Hannah. Lorie. Marshall.

chapter three


After I meet my family. we went

to the playground. And play wen

I went back. Naomi and Hannah

started to play whit me. Hannah

got her mom's camera and she

started to take a video. I was

shy Naomi and Hannah was

chasing me. I cobber my ayes

they were happy to see me

again. My parent's called me

they ask me were do you want

to celebrate your party? I said

something but I didn't know

and then my mom said

how about McDonald. Yes

I said. And they said OK.

And about two o'clock the

meeting start my family was

there. And mom nida said to me

go tell them hose your new family.

I said OK! So I did and it's time

to go to McDonald. To see what

should I have to the party .

chapter four


h my family and I went a hotel and

I love the hotel. So I went to my hotel

Room. And my brother said to me. Do

you want to go swimming? I don't know

about that josh. OK .my brother went

to the room and he show me how it;s done .

So we went to the pool at the tap of the

hotel. Joshua run to the pool and my dad

saw Joshua swimming. Will he got a talk

with my dad. After the talk. We went

back to get ready to go dinner. 

I miss him. I love him. I love the fact that he is with Jesus, very much alive and I like to think that he and Jesus conspired to give us this for Christmas.  Merry Christmas to you from the Wortheys!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Missing Jacob...still

It is official – the holidays are once again upon us.   It started much earlier than I remember.  I was hearing Christmas music on the radio before Halloween.  I changed the station hoping to hold off Christmas until at least after Thanksgiving.  It worked – until this past week.  There is no avoiding it any longer.  The holidays are officially here.  Something happens after the loss of a child.  Holidays seem to come sooner and are harder than ever imagined.

Last weekend I attended a “Surviving the Holidays after a Loss” Event.  I wasn’t sure what to expect or if I even needed to go.  After all, we had survived last year didn’t we?  As I watched the videos and took some notes I realized that last year had been a blur. We survived all right but only because we were all in a fog.  That’s when the realization hit me.  Year two would be even more difficult than year one.   This year, we are all very aware that someone is missing.  The fog has been lifted and we see very clearly.  

As we celebrate this Christmas season we remember Jacob.  We remember how he brought so much joy to our family.  We remember how many people he touched in just 14 short years on this earth.  We remember his big smile and the way he danced around the house.  We treasure the videos we now have of him and Naomi together.  We realize just how blessed we are to have had him in our family. 

I wasn't wanting to hear Christmas music so early this year.  I was afraid the music would bring back too many memories and that my emotions would be all over the place.  My fear came true when I heard this song the other day.  I pulled the car over and let the tears come.   The reality is that our Christmas will be different from now on.  There will always be an extra place at the table where Jacob would have sat. There will always be an empty stocking to fill and ornaments that were his to be hung.  I will always have those memories. Maybe just maybe with each passing year things will get a little easier.  

We love and miss you so much Jacob. We wish you were here with us but know that you will have a fantastic second Christmas in heaven.



Monday, June 6, 2016

The Battle, The Wound, Healing and Overflow

Its been since January.  That was the last time I wrote to you.  Much has happened since then.  Good things, blessings, growth and above all a deeper understanding of who God is.

2015 for me was the hardest year I have ever lived.  Dealing with the loss of Jacob left more than a mark on me - it changed me.  I was for most of the year - not me.  My kids noticed.  My bride - she noticed.  At first the change seemed to be not a good one.  I was dulled - reduced to just getting through the day - trying to 'be normal'.

It was not until I wrote the last 2 posts before this one in January that I began to gain life again. Writing those two posts allowed me to take the bandages off of the wounds I suffered in the Jacob battle - revealing the scars that will always be with me as a reminder of the intensity of that battle.

Notice I did not say I become 'myself' again  -because I will never be that guy again.  I'm more now. There is a richness to my life that could have never been without that time with Jacob.  I wrote once that "Suffering Reveals Jesus"  - I was partially right.  It does for sure reveal Jesus but I am discovering it does more over time.  It deepens your reservoir - increasing the depth and providing more water that I think Jesus wants us to share with others out of the overflow.  Suffering left me with a richness in my life that would have been unattainable in any other way.

Think about that...great loss, great sadness, suffering, anger, wounding... gives way to....Healing, Deepening, Overflow that I think will be used to bless others.  Our story is not - loosing Jacob... It is gaining more of Jesus.

Even in the suffering we have a Good Father

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Part 2: The Victory

I was startled out of my sleep by my phone ringing.  Dark. Fumbling I found it. It was Lorrie. Dread. "Marshall its Jacob.  Come soon, its time."  I turned the lamp on and got dressed then I woke the others.

We were in Brent's Place.  Debbie and the girls where in one room, Noah, Cliff and CJ slept in the living room.  All were stirring by the time I left the little bedroom I had collapsed in a few hours before.  We all knew what the call had to mean.

No one slept well that night as each of us wrestled with our own thoughts about what the next day would bring. The emotions ranged from anger to incredible sadness. My daughter Hannah was struggling with guilt, blaming herself for the cold that had ravaged our family and kept us away - I hate the enemy for this lie he told her - nonsense and we went to war to free her from that lie. Thankfully she is free of that now.   Hannah was also  particularly angry at God.  The same questions I am sure that I asked myself so many times before:  "why this suffering?" ... "why him?"  She just wanted to see him smile again - she asked God for that.

Noah was resigned and incredibly sad.  After all, Jacob had posed the idea of being brothers to him first - the day we first met him in Taclobon.  Noah knew he had a new brother way before Lorrie and I knew we were going to have another son.  He too was angry at God and just did not understand..."why Jacob? why are you taking him?"

Naomi thought about Jacob as she laid down.  Her oldest and dearest friend.  Jacob was a tie to her history - her person.  They grew up in the orphanage together and had been best friends since....well forever.  Deep water.  She smiled as she remembered  playing with her pal.  The big hill by our house...a re-purposed mountain board.  A pilot -Jacob and a power plant -Naomi.  A hill that made Mom and Dad cringe as they rocketed down.  Before the hospital...before leukemia Jacob had often told her how cool it would be to see Jesus - to be in heaven and they often talked about what they would do together there.  Now it was real...Jacob was about to see a place they often talked about and more importantly see Jesus.

Jacob's best friend CJ was very sad.  When he first met Jacob he was not too sure about this blasting cap from the Philippines.  But Jacob grabbed onto him and he discovered that he loved his time with him - they had become fast friends.  I'm sure CJ remembered all the times he and Jake played video games and raced RC cars in the hallway of 7E.  It was all about to be over now...memories were going to replace companionship and CJ hated that.

That evening our warrior allies Cliff and Debbie did what they could to listen to our children and offer the Lord's comfort to them.  Debbie  tenderly talked to our youngest Naomi about loosing Jacob and that it was nothing to be afraid of - He'd be with Jesus and that is what we all want - no more suffering, no more stinky grey pills  - only life as it was meant to be when Jesus "meant" Jacob.  Cliff went to war to free Hannah from this feeling of guilt the enemy was trying to get Hannah to buy into.  Scripture says the war is fierce in the heavenlies - this war for all men's souls.  I believe Cliff is a warrior with a reputation - we love this Man and his bride Lorielle - who wars for Hannah to this day.

A second call. "Marshall, don't rush...he's gone".   "You're the winner Lorrie."  "I know" she said.  I love you.  " We'll come soon Lorrie - are you ok?"  "I peace.  I'm ok Marshall".   I stood there for a moment as I listened to everyone getting ready to go.  I then walked into the living room where everyone was gathering and asked everyone to sit down on the floor with me.

As we sat on the floor in the pre-dawn darkness, I broke the news to my children, CJ, Cliff and Debbie.  Jacob was with Jesus.  He won.  Quiet tears. And then I saw something - I saw Jacob jump into the arms of Jesus - I saw it.  Jesus let me see that.  I told everyone.   Prayer.  Each of us prayed on that floor.  We thanked God for Jacob, for his life for the fact that we got to be his family. We thanked God for each other.

We finished dressing and headed back to Children's.  No one really spoke as we approached the elevator for the ride to the 7th floor. Once again we all washed our hands per the procedure and entered the BMT unit where Jacob's room was.  I thought it best for the kids, Debbie and Cliff to wait in the conference room while I checked in with Lorrie...and to see my boy.

I left them and went to room 758 -to Lorrie and Jacob.  As I entered the room I noticed the new dawn light mingling with the glow of the colored Christmas lights that still hung above Jacob's bed. Worship music was playing softly.  I saw Lorrie - she was smiling and at peace -once again treasuring up these things in her heart.  And then I saw Jacob. He was smiling - I threw my hat across the room and shouted - a victory shout.  "Look at that!" Lorrie was probably wondering if I had finally lost it..."look at what?"  " Lorrie...he is smiling.  He saw Jesus".  "Oh my...I didn't notice...he is." " He's ok now Lorrie - he won - you won!  I love you so much - he had the best Mom -you."

In the conference room Hannah was gripped by a deep and brooding sadness - deeper and different from the others.  I came to get them - "Noah, Naomi, Hannah do you want to come see him?"  Noah and Naomi got up and headed to the room.  Hannah was sobbing.."no...I can't".  "Hannah.  Hannah."  "I just can't Dad"  "Hannah."  "What?"  "Hannah he is smiling".  Hannah looked up at me and then walked past me to the room.  I briefly told Cliff and Debbie what I had seen and then joined my family in the room.  Now Hannah smiled.  God had answered her prayer - one more smile.

We sat with Jacob for the morning.  We worshiped.  We were at peace.  We made a point to comfort all who worked so hard to save and to serve Jacob.  "You knew him, you loved are welcome here." And so that morning the staff said goodbye to Jacob.  I will never forget seeing three of the housekeeping staff huddling quietly and tearfully in a closet two doors down.  I walked in - "are you ok?"  "We are so sorry about Jacob".    I told them it was ok.  "He was your friend too...please if you need to...come see him."  And they did.

That boy...his life...his was global.  Jacob's story has been heard all over the world.  The name of Jesus was proclaimed loudly.  I personally think that Jesus used Jacob to hand the enemy a part of his own backside - I love that thought.  Abandoned in a box, named "Holy" (Sagrada). Adopted, Loved and yes lost -but not really.  We miss him - but we all know we'll see him again - soon.  Cliff asked me that morning "what are you feeling now?"  I remembered the scene from Saving Private Ryan when they had finally taken the high ground above the beach and sat there exhausted, staring over the carnage on Omaha Beach and out to the invasion fleet.  "It's quite a view" .  Through Jesus Jacob took the high ground we were with him.  We won.

We Love You All.

The Wortheys

Friday, January 1, 2016

Part 1: Jacob Runs to Jesus

Our "year of firsts" is almost complete.  It has been a hard, hard road for all of us.  I've not spoken of what I'm about to tell you very much and if at all only to a few people who where there with us as Jacob passed.  But I need to do this now - tell you the story of  how Jacob left us to be with Jesus.

On New Year's Eve last year we spent our last evening as a family together with Jacob while he was conscious. We'd been sick, unable to visit him for fear of giving him the virus that ravaged our family like an enemy trying to keep us from our boy.   It had been about 2 weeks since we had been able to visit because of the sickness we had in the house - two of the last four weeks Jacob had left on his pilgrimage here on earth.  He had not really been alone during that time because we have allies like Debbie and Lois who left their own families to stay with him often.  But Jacob missed us. Finally better, we all went to see him.

Jacob was elated to see us finally.  We walked in and even with a Fever his smile lit up the room and leaked under the door - probably momentarily blinding an unsuspecting passer by.  In between fevers Jacob was alert and talking to us.  We sat with him snapped together some legos, and listened has he caught up with his sister and lifelong friend -Naomi. The time came for us to leave.  The weather was getting bad and we needed to get everyone home safe. We promised Jacob that we would return the next day. For the first time since March, Jacob cried when we left.  It broke my heart .  I comforted Jake as best I could and I promised him again that I would return the next day.  Then I walked down the long hall with my family working through the logistics of returning through the next day's forecasted snow storm.

After some slow driving down I 25, some sliding and near misses we got home safely.  We celebrated the new year as best you can when you have a sick child.  While I brewed beer with Joshua, Lorrie shared her heart with our friends and allies gathered at our home.  Truthfully I don't remember much more other than racking the beer into the primary and then somehow winding up in bed with Lorrie -both of us exhausted as usual.

We were jolted awake by a call early on New Year's day.  "Jacob has lost consciousness -he's in the ICU - we're not sure he will make it through the day - you need to come now."  We grabbed what we needed and headed to Denver in the waning snow storm.  More discussion, more urgent phone calls..something about " you want us to take steps to resuscitate him?"  Driving....council on the phone from our dear friend Bruce and his wife Judy.  "...what do we do?"  and "we can't tell you what to do". Prayer..."Lord we don't know what to do"...and..."please can we have more time...".

We made our way to the ICU. Nurses close to Jacob, who have grown to love him like we do met us outside his both give comfort to us and receive it from us because by now...they had become Jacob's big sisters.  Tears. Jacob was laying in the bed being helped to breathe by a CPAP machine while another fever racked his body.  And there we stayed with him.  Hours. We prayed and talked with him. We struggled with " how do you let him go? you let him go?"  Unfathomable. Unthinkable.  But...inevitable.

That first night  I sat with Jacob. We talked.  A couple of times he squeezed my hand as I talked with him. I also wrote about our conversation (that post is here).   There in the sterility of the ICU and all its hardness, I prayed and wondered what it would be like for Jake when he saw Jesus.  Weeks before Jesus had answered my prayer: "I have to know if he knows you Jesus..." and that same evening Jacob told me  " Oh, I already did that Dad..."  almost like -really you didn't know Dad?  - what a huge night that was for me.  Early the next morning, I asked Jake to do me a favor...."when you get there - you have to look up Kieth Green and Rich Mullins for me"  ..he squeezed my

Later that morning of the 2nd, I was joined by Lorrie who had spent that night at Brent's Place.  And we sat with Jacob together. Our Friends who had walked with us on this journey for so long joined us.  God provided wise counsel through our friend Gary who drove over  to be with us from a friends house in Denver where he and his bride Lois were celebrating the new year.

If you want to meet someone who walks in his calling it's Gary.  It's safe to say that Gary taught us how to let Jacob go.  He had served others for many years as a hospice chaplain.  He blessed us with his wisdom and his candor.  God used him and Lois to hold us.  Together they taught us how to help Jacob's brothers and sisters, and what they would likely need from us their parents as we prepared for his death.  Lois and Gary took us to lunch and we talked about Hannah, Noah, Naomi and Joshua.  Lorrie and I weren't sure if we could do this, let alone putting our kids in the position of watching Jacob struggle for each breath.  "They need to be here" Gary gently told us.  "They need to be with you and Jacob - they will need this to heal".  On the surface it seemed counter intuitive, to watch them hurt so that they can heal.  But through the fog, we knew Gary was right.  That man blessed us in that conversation in ways we are still discovering.

We returned to the hospital after having made arrangements with our friends Cliff and Lorielle to bring the kids up.  Cliff had stayed the night at our home that first night as I sat with Jacob and Lorrie tried her best to get some rest at Brent's place.  I know that during that time Cliff did what he does best: press into the lives of hurting people and offer hope.  I can see now that his mercy on our children was to be a crucial part for preparing them for the coming day. They arrived around noon navigated the maze of halls and nurses stations and peaked through the glass doors into Jacob's room in the ICU.

Two of Jacob's nurse sisters, Allie and Chris or maybe it was Chelsea, came down and made what would be a very important suggestion: take him back to familiar surroundings...his room on the 7th floor. Lorrie and I made the arrangements with the hesitant ICU staff right away.  For the last time we walked along side Jacob as his caregivers maneuvered his bed through the corridors of Children's Denver.  Down the hall, to the elevator and back to what had become our Denver Home on 7E. We gently placed Jacob into the room that had his beautiful person splattered all over it.  Broncos posters, Lego kits both completed and not completed all over the place - like mushrooms.  Origami birds, video games, nerf pistols and the coolest globe ever.  This was his room and everyone knew it.

There is a limit on how many people you can have in a room on 7E.  But rules are made to be broken and once again we broke the rules.  It was a beautiful time.  Our Nehemiah, Debbie Allen and Matt joined us.  Gary, Lois,  Cliff and Lorielle and their son CJ - our loyal allies sat with us.  We worshiped.  We told Jacob stories, we held his hand. That room became a holy place.  Jesus was there.  His presence was real -both in the room and on the entire floor.  Peace.  Comfort.  It was almost as if Jacob's leukemia was a climb to the top of a mountain, and all of us including Jacob were resting - taking in the view.  We stayed all day and into the evening.

By now I was exhausted having been up for the past 2 days.  Lorrie wanted to stay with our boy that night - just her.  I took the kids and our allies over to Brent's Place for some much needed rest.  I collapsed into a dreamless sleep as Cliff, Debbie and CJ continued to talk in the other room with Noah, Hannah and Naomi.  As I slept, amazing conversations and events unfolded.  A quarter mile away at Children's Hospital Lorrie stayed with Jacob in the same way she had on countless other nights.

She read to him and talked with him into the night.  She took a shower and made the little couch into a bed as we both had done on countless other nights while staying with Jacob.  She slept some.  She remembered.  About a year earlier she wondered out loud to me "why has connecting with Jacob been so hard?  You see we adopted Jacob at 11 - the time when young boys start pulling away from Mom and bonding to their Fathers.  Each adoption of an older child comes with unique challenges. Adopting Jacob was no exception.  But for Lorrie, who's heart it is to nurture, to not have the opportunity to nurture her older son in the way she wanted had been especially hard and it wounded her deeply.  

As she laid in the room in the glow of Jacob's Christmas lights. Like Mary, she treasured things up in her "Momma Heart".  Remembering what Gary told us about the process of a soul leaving the body Lorrie checked on Jacob intermittently.  In the back of her mind Lorrie must have remembered what he said..."if you're the one there when Jesus calls are the winner..." As she checked on Jacob one last time, Jacob surprised mom as he opened his eyes and looked at her and I am sure Jesus himself standing by her. And then he closed them.  Lorrie was the winner - she birthed her son into heaven and the 'nurturing wound' was gone.

Jesus is good like that.

To be continued in the next post.... Part 2.