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New Year…New Doctor…New Schedules…New goals

Hello Everyone,

I know it’s been a little while since our last update, but both Joshua and I have been under the weather with the Christmas cold that invaded our house.  He was the last to get it but he hit it quickly with apple cider vinegar and airborne and it never got a major hold. But he’s had to watch it more in terms of activity and naps.  He got over it the quickest…who said something about a compromised immune system?  We’re totally convinced on the change of diet regimen…he’s never felt better (in the midst of being very sick).  I on the other hand am still trying to get rid of my 6 week long cough and get my energy back…I’m not juicing yet because of the cost factor but I think we’re going to change here soon and I’m going to add it to my morning regimen.  And I’m going to the Dr. tomorrow to see what we can do to get me healthy again.  I suppose it doesn’t help that we both wake up 2 or 3 times a nigh,t so the sleep factor is not the best yet, but we’re working on that as well as getting to bed earlier.

Joshua went to physical therapy for the first time today and so after discussion with the doctor they will decide a good exercise strategy for him…stretching, swimming etc.  He’s starting to put more time working and preparing for his class which begins January 23rd…a Monday night once a week.  We’ll take the train up on Sunday, stay with friends and come back Tuesday.  Please pray that this will go smoothly as it is SO important to him.  I’m a little nervous, but then every new thing makes me a little nervous until I see that it’s going to be ok.  So far extra physical activity does seem to take some toll on him so we’ll have to figure out a way for him to get rest in the middle of the trip.  It’s tricky figuring out how much is too much and what he’s really capable of doing without compromising his healing.  (He still thinks he’s a bit of Superman, ready to meet any challenge),  I can blame Naomi for that as she bought him a Superman blanket after he finished radiation.

He’s getting much more of a rash on his face this week (which he’s not extremely excited about…but you know him, he doesn’t complain).  We understand that’s supposed to be a good sign that the Tarceva is working so we’re looking on it as a positive.  His fingers are still very red and sore, another side affect, but he’s taking pretty good care of them with hydrogen peroxide where he lances them and bag balm to keep them moist.  It’s pretty painful if he hits them up against anything but he’s functioning with them quite well.

Well, for all you College Football fans, I imagine you’re either very sad (LSU’s tragic loss) or very happy (Alabama’s total dominating win) if you watched it tonight.  We watched it with a friend of Joshua’s which was a lot of fun and ate a lot of Joshua’s homemade organic guacamole and chips (organic of course).  It was yummy and I ate most of it.  We’re both trying to gain weight as we’ve  lost more than we need to for sure these past two months.  So if anyone has some organic healthy fattening recipes (using only flaxseed oil for fat) send them on to us…we’re very open.

One request…please pray for wisdom about my car decision.  It looks like the cost to fix it is going to be greater than what it’s worth…totaled.  So that means another car, which Joshua is not sad about since he didn’t like my car for me because of visibility issues and he’s convinced I need  a car that has  no hands off the steering wheel features to keep my driving simplified.  I have to admit that my last couple of years, have proven to be full of distractions and a lot on my mind to make driving less than optimum in the safety department. (I have to mention, however, that the accident I just had was not my fault…:-)  So I am willing to consider something more simplified and safe, but it’s a big decision and the timing doesn’t seem to be what I would have picked but I have to trust that God knew that when he allowed that young girl to turn in front of me.  And I feel badly because she is a single mom who says she cannot afford to get her car fixed and says she has no family in the area to help her. (I learned this by 3 rather harassing phone calls she made to me (by text to phone) after the accident.  I’ve considered calling her to see if I think she is legitimate in her claims, despite her bad tactics in letting me know.  I’d hate for that to be true, when we’ve been showered with love and support in our crisis.  Please pray for wisdom in that decision as well.  I know, my life right now probably has more than you might have time to pray for…but there are a lot of you, our friends, out there, so you can pick and choose. 🙂  On a more serious note…

People ask me all the time how I (we) are doing and it is a very hard question to answer truthfully at times.  For me at least. While I am overwhelmed by the constant love we have and are being shown and I see God answering prayers which I am so thankful for, the very real struggles, physical and emotional drain, and pain He does not spare us from.  That’s a very real part of his real work in our lives…so the suffering is real.  Some people are comfortable hearing the first reality and some are comfortable with the second or both. The best way I can describe it at present comes from a book entitled, ‘Heaven is for Real’ by Todd Burpo about his 3 year old son who almost died on the operating table, and in the next few years shared more and more about his experience of being in heaven while he was under. (I know it sounds astonishing or maybe very doubtful but he was able to account for things he could never have known as a 3 yr. old…it’s a great book and a quick read).  But, people often made the comment to his dad that it must be so wonderful to have had that experience with his son and that his family was so blessed.  And his response was, ” In the sense that we’ve had a glimpse through the veil that separates earth from eternity, they’re right.  But I also think, Blessed?  We watched our son almost die…It’s fun talking about the things he saw there and the daughter we lost (by miscarriage) that we will see again someday.  But it’s not fun to talk about how we got there.  Recalling those terrifying days when we watched Colton cling to life still brings tears to my wife and I.  To this day, the miraculous story of his visit to heaven and the story of almost losing our son are one and the same event to us.”  And in thinking about writing the book they were somewhat tentative because as he stated, “A lot of people love his story because of all the details about heaven.  We like that too.  But then there’s that hospital part when we all walked through terror and misery for what seemed an eternity.”

When I read that I immediately identified with what he was saying.  There is a very real paradox  in the truth that God is or becomes most real in our times of crisis and suffering, (many times it’s in our reflection back on the events or times in our lives) but  going through it can oftentimes or maybe even most often resembles a kind of hell…or at least it feels like it at the time.  At the very least it is oftentimes agonizing, trying, hard, anxiety producing, painful, confusing, frightening etc. depending on the trial. And the positive truth of how God will use these times in our lives or even the times we experience His presence and answered prayers doesn’t take away the other reality.  We may learn that it most surely makes it more than worth it, and sometimes get to experience that in this life.  But there’s another reality that some suffering will bring it’s result in the next life and it is faith that gives us hope to hang on.  All of our answers are not always provided this side of heaven.  Nor does our knowledge that someday they will be answered take away the present suffering.

When I think about God speaking to me to trust Him for a miracle for Joshua’s healing I am elated and re-grounded.  And then I live through a seizure, days of uncertain symptoms, my own sickness that doesn’t want to go away, and little sleep.  Then we get cards in the mail with words of love and encouragement, gifts to help us survive financially, and friends offering to bring produce from the store in Iowa City or it comes through the mail.  Then I find myself anxious as I see Joshua losing weight faster than me, I have more on my desk than I think is possible of finishing before summer, and I get into a car accident which feels like another whole crisis in and of itself emotionally and I total my car.  Then I read wonderful  caring posts on Caring Bridge and get four more cards in the mail and someone calls or e-mails Joshua to let him know they’re praying for him.  So, how am I doing?   Good/bad…peaceful/frantic…thankful/worried…depressed/happy…and all of the above.   That’s reality!

So, that’s why and how ‘love’ can make such a difference in our suffering.  Why Jesus says, “Weep with those who weep”.  Why he cried when he heard of Lazarus’ death, even knowing He planned to resurrect him. Why he said, “Comfort those with the comfort you have been given”.  Why He said, “Faith, hope, and love…but the greatest of these is love”.  Faith is good…hope is essential…but love is the greatest…and the most powerful.  Because amidst the craziness of life and the pain of suffering love is the only thing that brings deep and lasting hope and faith.  A strength that endures.

So,Thank you all again for the continued cards and notes of support and to everyone who has sacrificed to give to us financially. I can only say that WE are flabbergasted and so humbled each time we receive financial assistance or see on Pay Pal all of you who have so willingly and lovingly given of yourselves in that way.  As I have said many times…there are no words to adequately express how much you all have impacted our lives and what a large part you play in keeping us moving ahead with hope.   We can only pray for MUCH blessing to come your way and pray that your lives will be enriched.  (I want to write a book someday about the unbelievable power of love…and if I do I want each and everyone of your names to be in there…we love you all so much.)  As Naomi mentioned, it is all being put to good use in buying the large quantities of food that it takes to keep his juicing and organic diet up,it would literally be prohibitive otherwise, medications not covered by the VA (special laxatives that cost $118 if you can believe that, just to name one), a juicer and a rice cooker for helping to keep the time factor lower for cooking and juicing as it all takes quite some time, his ongoing car and insurance bills and health insurance, the upcoming train rides to Chicago to teach his class etc.  (even though it’s only one class, it will help in the $ arena eventually which I’m sure he will feel really good about).  I’m telling you all this so you can know the very real practical ways your gifts are helping us sustain costs neither of us planned on or were prepared to take on, of course.  And to know that God knew all along what His plan was to take care of our needs.  What encouragement there is in that and I hope for you as well.

Well, that’s about it as of late in our lives.  Please continue to pray for healing, especially in the C-2 area of his spine, so that we can get a good report on his next PET Scan and flabbergast the Dr. with a miracle.  How wonderful would that be?!!

 Once again, our thoughts and prayers are with you all (we thank God and pray for you all everyday),

Kristi, Joshua and family,

January 10, 2012 - 8:47 AM

Julia Benson - Thanks for sharing your heart with us, Kristi! I’m a big believer in diet and nutrition for optimal health as well…although it does get expensive!! However, since I have made some big changes in the last year or so I can honestly say that I have not gotten sick even once…and that can be a miracle working in a school! (And I also have more energy than I have had in years!!) Praying for continued movement toward health, strength, patience, and endurance for you both (and the rest of the family) as you continue to walk this road!!

January 14, 2012 - 12:18 AM

admin - Thanks, Julia. Yes, the change in nutrition I think is as important as the Tarceva. And it can be nothing but good for both he and I. I am slowly seeing my likes and dislikes as well as what I get hungry for changing. That’s encouraging. So glad you’ve had such good success with the change as well. And yes, in a school surrounded by hundreds of kids, it is a miracle to stay healthy.

January 14, 2012 - 2:56 PM

Jeffrey J Weiss - Thank you for sharing; in the peace community here in Des Moines we are praying for Joshua and all of you, we send a shot of Love in your direction. As a cancer survivor everytime I read of the treatment and its travails my heart goes out to all of you even more.

God Bless all of you and know we are with you

Jeffrey

January 15, 2012 - 6:30 PM

Eva Usadi - Hello Kristi and Joshua,
Just wanted to share this with you – it is a campaign that went up, got picked up by Channel 4 news (I think) and raised $85,000 in 3 days.
http://www.indiegogo.com/marcdoty?a=324543

No joke. And they had only asked for $10,000 to defray medical costs. It is something I would encourage you to do and to enlist the help of Warrior Writers, the IVAW and/or Rita Brock to get you some immediate live coverage. As you may notice, my org. has an Indiegogo campaign that is quite sluggish (we are extending it) but, I just started a blog and did a post about Joshua http://healingourwarriorstrr.blogspot.com/ in order to drive more support your way. I know there are some technical problems with the blog which is why I haven’t linked it everywhere yet – I am getting professional help tomorrow!

Best to you both, let me know what you think about the blog and if you want me to change anything i am happy to do so and re-publish. No ego here, really.
Warm wishes,
Eva

January 17, 2012 - 4:01 AM

admin - Eva, thank you so much for your deep and sincere concern for Joshua and myself…all you have done and are doing is more than heartwarming, it is powerfully uplifting for us. We so appreciate everything. I checked out both sites and your site on Joshua is very good. I have a couple of thoughts of things that you might want to add and Joshua may or may not when he reads it (he’s asleep…you may notice that it is almost 4am and I have yet to close my eyes.) It might be good to e-mail to talk things over. In case you don’t have mine it is: kristicasteel@gmail.com (would you believe I don’t know Joshua’s?) or if you want to call Joshua directly his telephone # is 319-360-6935. The clip you showed I have never seen. Without wanting to sound prideful, I listen to some of his different talks, panels, etc. and I have such a strong feeling that he has so much more to do and to say. This crisis may serve to only strengthen his message. He has such a platform of experiences from which to do it. You probably know that there is a VERY strong likelihood that his cancer was caused by manning the burn pits in Iraq and his VA advisor thinks he has a very good case to win some kind of compensation eventually (it usually takes quite some time…maybe years), but that may be a significant point to add to his bio. He is not angry or bitter about it at all, in fact feels grateful that he can share in the sufferings of the Iraqi people who must be suffering the effects from the pits as well. And he also feels it will give him a greater platform to speak to the injustice of war that inevitably takes place. Thank you again, Eva, and please do contact us when you have the time. We’d love to talk with you.

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