In 2005, the Lord moved our family moved to our current location, after much confirmation of His leading. We knew we were ‘risking it all in faith’ for all He desired for our family, yet we truly had no comprehension of the wilderness and ‘wild ride’ we had said ‘yes’ to, or we probably wouldn’t have come. In the midst of eight years of trials and tribulations, Father God was faithful in turning much to good on behalf of our six children, as well as in protecting and providing for us, in spite of many storms. In the Spring of 2011, while driving near our home, I clearly heard Holy Spirit say, “Como se amos?” This question prompted an extensive search, with much confirmation along the way, on the meaning of my name. I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit my initial findings were less than enthusiastic with regard to ‘Tammy’ meaning ‘palm tree.’ The Lord in His infinite goodness always gives us what we need to ensure we get to where He is leading us. My search has been far too lengthy to include in this post, therefore, in a nutshell: Psalm 92:12 states that the righteous will flourish like a palm tree. Palm trees are designed to withstand storms, to bend and not break, while resiliently bouncing back once the storm has passed. Their roots are as deep as their heights. They are symbolic of fruitfulness in the desert, while providing refuge, relief, or refreshing. Little did I know how important my understanding of these findings would be, confirmed at the onset of this move in James 1:4 (NAS), “And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Fast forward to 2014 with a recent post from our youngest son’s Caring Bridge site (if you have already read the Caring Bridge post, skip down to the *asterisk).

“2013 is officially behind us & our family is shouting “Hallelujah!” We are one month away from a year into Josiah’s renal failure journey: February 5, 2013, we thought Josiah had food poisoning, which then turned into the flu; February 27 we received the emergency official diagnosis that placed the remainder of 2013 on a bizarre roller coaster ride, which actually began in December of 2012 (*see below). 2013 ended with as much confusion as it began with, as the wild twists and turns of the roller coaster accelerated from Thanksgiving week right up through Christmas.

If Josiah’s journey had been the only thing we had to venture through in 2013, it would have been more than enough. I tell people we could write a book that no one would want to read, however, this will truly go down as the year our family experienced the “Footprints” mode, thankful to intimately know the One who is carrying us: “During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.” He has most definitely carried us through a rough 8 year season, culminating as *follows (minus many details in other pertinent areas not privy to sharing):

December 2012-January 2013: Kevan doctored throughout both months in St. Cloud & at Mayo Clinic for bacterial infection/neuropathy. January-February: Jessa had 3 oral cyst surgeries, as well as battled several other physical issues. February: Josiah’s renal failure began. March-May: Hospital, living at RMH, & maneuvering dialysis. Joci began testing to be Josiah’s kidney donor. Tammy began a sound & healing therapy certification to make the most of all the medical waiting time. June: Jadan was rear-ended on I-94 coming from RMH to visit Josiah (the New Year prior we had spent the night in prayer/worship, followed by Jadan hitting black ice on the way to church, totaling my vehicle in a tree – thankful to still have Jadan). Joci was flagged as Josiah’s donor with Hemophilia Factor 11, as well as having to take a summer course to juggle in the midst of everything in order to graduate in 2014. July: Josiah had his “suddenly” transplant on July 16. August: Josiah was in the hospital again to check for ‘rejection.’ Joci began her senior year, & we got to return home after having been gone 6 months. Tammy completed her sound & healing therapy/VoiceBio sound therapy certifications. Somewhere in the fog, Jadan had a severe 3 week bacterial infection in his intestines requiring ER, scans, doctor appointments, etc.. September/October: trying to adjust to quarterbacking all of the anti-rejection/anti-infective meds, labs/doctor visits, daily medical related phone calls/emails, etc. & juggling school for both Joci & Josiah (we juggled quite a bit from February through summer school for both as well). Jessa & Tammy continued doctoring from being rear-ended in November of 2011. November-December: Tammy had to have several moles/precancerous spots removed on her face, arm, & leg. Josiah’s numbers plummeted due to CMV virus, requiring a hospital stay & 3 weeks of home infusion/home healthcare. We rushed Jadan to the ER with a kidney stone (his second kidney stone ER trip, as the other was the weekend prior to the tree). Tammy had to return to the dermatologist to have more abnormal cells removed. Both leg incisions involved stitches for two weeks, followed by butterflies for another two weeks (alas, the month of January exercise has been postponed to February)…and oh, did I mention that our softener system is currently on the blink so we can’t wash clothes or blonde hair, unless of course we want orange?

I/we often find myself stopping to simply catch my/our breath…if I’m not breathing in His presence I’m not moving. Many other events/the goings on of daily life went on in the midst of all this that have been left out of the recap. Our family has/is simply trying to do Josiah’s journey with the best discernment we possibly can in the midst of all the other events, in order to arrive victoriously at one year post-transplant next July. That means that during peak flu and cold season, we miss a daughter’s wedding, & we stay in/home for Christmas & New Years. Currently that continues to mean we all take turns staying home with Josiah for the various goings on of life that don’t stop when one of us is down, as well as sometimes just going through a drive through to have a change of scenery/pace.

This week Josiah labs are doing much better. His WBC’s are finally climbing high enough to gradually reinstate his anti-rejection meds week by week, trying to get them back to the levels they were at prior to the CMV ordeal. He’s supposed to be on 7 per day…we’ve been doing 1 per day since Thanksgiving & prior to that never got past 4 per day due to WBCs. Many emails, phone calls, and much confusion with home health care, labs, calling between facilities making appointments, getting meds clarified/adjusted/refilled, dealing with healthcare policies/changes with a change of year, etc. throughout the final 3-4 weeks of the year. We are still waiting on his first appointment of monthly respiratory therapy, since the anti-infective meds he was taking prior to CMV negatively impacted his WBC.

Again, we express our heartfelt thanksgiving for doctors who have discernment, experience, & are skilled at navigating these waters we travel. Josiah rarely demonstrates on the OUTSIDE (because of his charismatic personalty, which is a major gift) all that’s truly going on INSIDE his body. Because of his gift of resiliency, not many have really understood the reality/severity of this journey our family has been on…thankful there is One who truly knows & understands every detail. I/we don’t want to ever forget on behalf of many who need someone to understand & care personally/specifically about what they’re going through. We are humbly thankful for a donor family who gave Josiah the gift of life in the midst of their loss. We want to be the hands & feet of Jesus on the other side of all this for the families who continue on with difficult journeys at Amplatz Children’s Hospital, RMH, & numerous others…

Bottom line: we made it through to 2014 carried by/in His grace, & we give all thanks and glory to our Lord & King…we would absolutely not have made it through without Him! No weapon formed against us has or will prosper! All of these attacks against our family from the enemy of our souls have not been without reason, therefore, we stand in faith & anticipate a Christmas letter next year filled with praise reports on how the Lord has turned ALL of this to good simply because He IS good.

We are tremendously thankful to officially have BEHIND us what I have literally referenced as ‘the year from hell.’ We look AHEAD to opening doors in 2014 of Heaven on Earth that hold supernatural restoration, healing, provision, & prayerfully, many new hope-filled opportunities! Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” 

We are also deeply thankful for each and every person our Lord has used to ease the burdens of our journey in whatever way He has led you…truly truly thankful…there are really no words to adequately express our thanks. Our prayer is for each of you to be supernaturally & abundantly prosperous 30, 60 & 100 fold for every prayer prayed; for every gift given; for every act of kindness sown. I will close with one of my favorite inheritance promises to us from the Lord (significant because of the blood moons that will manifest in 2014 – you can Google that one :))

Joel 2: 25-32, “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmer worm, my great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.”

To kick off our year of restoration, as evidence of the Lord’s immense faithfulness at the onset of 2014, Josiah was granted a Make A Wish trip to Dolphin Cove, Florida, later this spring.”

*Obviously, many details from 2005-2013, as well as those in between the lines have been omitted. If I wrote it all down, I’m not sure too many would believe it all, much less believe we’ve endured, as a number of the years were filled with everything from car accidents, to bizarre water issues, to everything that could break down did, to inexplicable relationships, to weird events in the middle of the night. Since surrendering absolute wholeheartedness to a Holy Spirit led Kingdom lifestyle at the onset of our family, this journey has truly been a ‘wild’ ride. At the head of 2014, we have been given a choice to focus on what’s ahead, having learned much along the way and applying the many lessons to our present journey, or we can choose to stay focused on all that’s past, complete with accompanying baggage (disappointment, frustration, offense, lack, etc.) through that lens. Holy Spirit gave me an interesting object lesson regarding the season many of us find ourselves in. I humbly share to encourage whoever finds themselves still reading this post :):

A simple illustration of an automobile windshield can be used to represent the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. A windshield’s purpose is to provide the driver with a larger than life, unobstructed view of the path ahead. Right in the center of the windshield, however, is a much smaller ‘distraction’ that provides the driver with a view of what is coming up from behind or passed: the rear view mirror, along with two accompanying side mirrors for much the same purpose. Rear view mirrors can be used to represent the kingdom of darkness continually trying to keep us focused on what’s behind; on the past (passed). When our focus is on the rear view mirrors, we potentially encounter accidents on the road ahead, some deadly, that can easily and skillfully be avoided when we’re looking through the windshield at where we’re heading. Equally significant are the important, unnoticed stops along the way we miss out on when our focus is on the rear view mirrors.

What’s in the rear view mirrors? Our past offenses, failures, disappointments, deferred hopes, broken relationships, generational curses, and an endless list of negative, hurtful, painful, critical, judgmental, shaming, condemning, disappointing, defeating, dis-eased circumstances and memories. What’s in the windshield? The road of eternal life, the destiny our Heavenly Father created and planned for each of us to walk out for our assigned time on the Earth, and all of the goodness of Heaven waiting to be revealed, heard, received, decreed, believed, activated, enjoyed, seized, and released through the blood and the light of Christ for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit of the living God is speaking. Through the windshield we are able to skillfully navigate the path ahead and avoid obstacles along the way, whether those obstacles be other vehicles, pedestrians, nature, or debri, simply because we kept our eyes focused on following the clear path through the windshield. Windshield washer fluid (the blood of Jesus), wipers (Holy Spirit/Word revelation), scrapers (iron sharpens iron fellowship), and heat (trials and tribulations that mature us) ensure our windshield vision remains unobstructed for the journey ahead. Through the windshield we are able to “press toward the the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:13, NAS).”

It’s through the windshield we keep focused on the goal: “I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back (Philippians 3:12-14, MSG).”

The most important aspects concerning this illustration: 1) surrendering the steering wheel, the gas pedal, and the brakes to Holy Spirit, and 2) using the rear view mirrors (lessons learned from the past) to maturely and skillfully  navigate present surroundings, avoiding accidents, through a Kingdom windshield of alert perception with the eyes of our Heavenly Father. At the risk of being cliche, I will close with the words of Carrie Underwood:, “Jesus, take the wheel.”