Tuesday, June 10, 2014

An Update from Jeremiah on T-shirt Day!

It is exactly 3 months until the Invictus Games (sorry if that stresses you out, Jeremiah)! Yay for our first T-shirt Day!

In other news...here is an update from Jeremiah! 

The last few weeks have come and gone so fast! You've already seen pictures of the Valor Games and then I went on to the Blaze Military Sports Camp in Warm Springs, Georgia. 

Both events were great. Both events gave me the opportunity to share the message of Jesus Christ with other wounded warriors. All I can say is, hopefully some seeds were planted. 

Blaze introduced me to an Olympic archery coach who said, "Means, I want to see you with a competition bow in your hands. Put that hunting bow down and you will go places."

Well back to normal life...life at home. 

Gabe is growing into a fine young boy. All he wants to do is go for a ride. A few days ago he asked, "Dad, you wants to get on your hand cycle and ride around the neighborhood? I will help get you and it out of the garage!" 

And he did just that. He turned my cycle around and backed it out of the garage just like he has seen his mother do and then he said, "Okay Dad, I will help you get down on it." I love that little man. I sat down and he went straight for my legs to pick them up and put them into the leg stirrups. Again, just like he has seen his mommy help me. 

We went for the ride and he said, "Dad, keep an ear out for me!" Watching him learn to ride and venture to trying bigger and better things with his bike is a joy. All the training and events that have been going on has really taken its toll on the time I have been able to spend with just me and Gabe. I truly love how he stepped out and made it happen all on his own. That's my son, and in him I am well pleased. 

Last week was the World Cup and I was able to meet Bob Foth, the Paralympic shooting coach. It was cool to meet him but I had no range time last week to practice so it was great to be able to go and shoot yesterday.

After my time on the range I went and swam a little. When I got home my lovely wife says, "Don't you think you need to cycle tonight?"


So we went for a 12 mile ride down Rails to Trails. My times were 6 miles in 23:15, 9 miles in 40:45, and 12 miles in 54:23. Not that bad if you ask me! I was pleased, not to mention all of the roads you have to stop at along the way. 

God is good and He continues to reveal Himself to us each and every day. I had a good talk with a few folks at the archery range on Sunday. They said I was an encouragement just being there so even in the little things God gets the glory. 

This weekend my dad and I worked on a box to be able to put my hand cycle in on some of the up and coming events that will require me to fly. The weight limit for the box was 100 pounds. Dad and I did everything we could to keep the box within that requirement. Yesterday we took the complete box to Dad's work to have it weighed on the scale there...and it was 112 pounds. We were over! 

We went to the airport to see what they had to say about it. Well, they said we needed to lose the extra 12 pounds and then we would be good. They did give us a number to call to see if they would be able to make an exception just this once since Ashley will be leaving for New York soon, to compete in the Army Trials at West Point. We found out today that like the Air Force Trials this will be kind of a big deal. They are taking us into New York City for the Army's 239th Birthday and we will have the opportunity to visit Ground Zero. Words can't express the excitement my wife has and I am looking forward to it as well. That is all for now!

Thanks for everything,

Monday, June 9, 2014

Willa Says...

Willa says, "Don't forget to wear your Jeremiah for the Gold 
t-shirts tomorrow!!! And share, share, share!"

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Exactly Where I Was

I remember exactly where I was when Jeremiah called to tell me he had been invited to compete in the Warrior Games and the Invictus Games. I was standing in my kitchen looking at a sink full of dirty dishes that should have been washed the day before but when I heard the word London they no longer existed.

It was a short conversation that mainly involved a lot of excited screaming on my end and my brother's even toned, matter of fact, sharing of the facts. Two important competitions in less than a month of each other.

For several days all I could think about was could I get there...was there enough time to save enough money? I vacillated between the thoughts, "I HAVE to go" and "It's ridiculous to think I could go". Besides, I had another trip partially paid for already that was around the same time and I couldn't get enough time off work to go to both.

Eventually...it probably just took me a day and a half but eventually, I settled on I HAVE to go. So I cancelled the other trip and my brain started kicking into gear. At every turn and idea I knew the Lord was fueling my creativity.

Fundraisers, t-shirts, this blog. I wanted to help my brother tell his story; our family's story.

In all honesty the fundraiser part of it started out so I could go to London. Is that wrong? Sure, Jeremiah would be competing in Colorado Springs as well but I wanted to go to LONDON!

Turns out I didn't have to worry about how I was going to get over the pond because Jeremiah and Ashley had an extra, paid in full, ticket, which they offered me and I gleefully accepted! All of a sudden the pressure was off but I had already set this fundraising thing in motion so, apart from helping get some family to Colorado, what were we raising money for again?

Then Ashley filled me in on the fact that not all of Jeremiah's training and travel expenses would be covered.

So what started out as an admittedly, partially selfish endeavor has turned into us being able to write them a $300 check for a travel case for his archery gear. And I tell you what, last night when I told Ashley we would have a check for them today, a joy seeped into my chest that I almost didn't recognize.

So, I guess I just wanted to say thank you. You guys are the ones who made that possible.

There is a lot being said lately about Jeremiah and rightly so but this really is a celebration of Ashley as well. She would be the first one to say that the last 4 1/2 years have not been easy, but in the face of all the loss and all the tragedy she has loved my brother well. She stayed when a lesser woman would have left.

She won't be competing in these games. There won't be the potential for her to win a gold medal in London or Colorado Springs this September but as far as I am concerned her treasures are stacking up in Heaven.

So, Ashley, I guess I just wanted to publicly say thank you. Thank you for staying and loving my baby brother well.

I remember exactly where I was when I found out Jeremiah had his first MRI 4 1/2 years ago. I was on the traction table at my chiropractor's office in Columbus, Georgia checking Facebook.

I remember exactly where I was when Ashley called to tell me they were taking Jeremiah to the hospital. I was in my car driving to my Growth Group.

I remember exactly where I was a lot during that first year of Jeremiah's illness, so remembering exactly where I was during all the exciting times of this season is just another blessing of the Lord. Restoring sorrow with joy, tears with laughter, regrets with excitement.

That is what He does...it's who He is.

My favorite thing about this season so far are all of the smiles I am seeing on my brother's face. Even in pictures he looks like a man with purpose.

God is a God of restoration, friends.

I think I had forgotten that in the last several years of my life. Not like forgotten like I didn't know it intellectually any more, but more like my heart had forgotten.

Let Jeremiah's story, our family's story, remind you of the things in your life that need restoring that maybe you have stopped believing God for. I know I have. It can be painful to look back on forgotten dreams and a little scary to begin to hope again.

And then I decided to spend some time looking up verses with the word hope in them. There are a lot of good ones but I landed in the book of Lamentations. Seriously, the whole third chapter resonates. I can't speak for Jeremiah and the rest of our family but it sure resonates with me.
20 I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Help Us Have the Mother of All Garage Sales!!!

Since we don't have enough to do before the games...HA!...we have decided to have an EPIC yard sale in Columbus, GA in an effort to help us raise a good portion of our need.

That is where you come in! If you are in the Columbus, GA or Franklin, TN area and have some things you would like to donate for the sale, please e-mail Jeremiah's sister, Kathryn at kathrynmeans@yahoo.com and we will coordinate a time and place for delivery or pick up.

The yard sale will be sometime in July so stay tuned for more details! We would love to see you and help you turn someone else's junk into your treasure!

Now, go clean out those closets!!!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Season of Restoration

These are exciting days for Jeremiah's family...busy days full of phone calls and making travel arrangements, filling out paperwork and training. Busy, but exciting days!

One of the things I can't get out of my mind is this is what it looks like when God restores the years that the locusts have stolen. This is what beauty from ashes looks like. 

Because of that, this season of restoration and purpose has me thinking about that scary season 4 1/2 years ago. So I have been going through some old journal entries from that time. I instinctively knew that God would not waste Jeremiah's illness...but seriously, who could have guessed at what the Lord had planned?
November 26, 2009
I wish I could pretend it is just another day; just a regular day, but it isn’t. Today marks the 17th day my sweet, strong brother has been in the hospital. Today he had a set back and we aren’t entirely sure what caused it.

Today is Thanksgiving Day.

As my family, minus my brother and nephew, sat around our makeshift Thanksgiving lunch there were tears, worries, and an unspoken, “Why us? Why now?”

Plans of who would leave tomorrow and who would stay were made. No one wants to stay and at the same time no one wants to leave…how can a family be so conflicted? Right now I’m watching my daddy eat pecan pie from the pie plate as he looks out the window overlooking the parking lot. I can guess what he is thinking and while his stance would communicate nonchalance and peace, his thoughts are far from either.

This morning I was reading in Hebrews 5 and verse eight hasn’t left me.

“Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered”

At night, as I have a hard time getting to sleep, the one truth that helps me get there is the truth that my brother is God’s son. A son who God loves immeasurably. As we weep, He weeps with us and as we walk into the darkness of the unknown He is the Light who guides us.

Although he was a son…

Jesus is God’s Son.

…he learned obedience from what he suffered.

If God the Father did not withhold suffering from Jesus then why should we expect He would withhold suffering from us? And if Jesus, who was with God the Father before the foundation of the earth was laid, learned obedience from His suffering, then surely there is something for us to learn in our suffering.

As I was sharing this with my brother this morning I saw a spark in his eyes. Knowing instantly that he was in there and he was following me I forged ahead, trying desperately to commuincate the love of the Father to a tired and broken son.

Out of the corner of his eye came a tear. Out of both of my eyes came several.

He moved his mouth as if to say something but it causes him supreme effort to talk today so I stopped him. I told him, and myself, that there would be plenty of time to talk about all the things he wanted to say, all the things he was thinking during these days. He blinked his agreement. Later as I was leaving his room for a bit I blew him a kiss only for him to blow one back at me.

Oh, Lord, how I love that man!

I was reminded of the old hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” today and I have been humming it off and on ever since.

“Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father, there is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not (Even when our circumstances scream that You have); As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be (You are the God who heals, who restores what was lost and stolen, now and always).

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest, Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above join with all nature in manifold witness, to Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love (We join in with the seasons and the celestial beings and all the earth to declare the goodness of the Lord).

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide (When forgiveness of sins would have been enough You are so good You didn’t stop there. You gave us Your Holy Spirit); Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided; Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.” 

So this Thanksgiving I look not to the circumstances surrounding me but the faithfulness of my God. I look not to the man in the hospital bed but the Father who loves His son even more than this daughter does. I look not to the worry and fear that beckons me to travel a bridge I am not graced to travel but the Light that beckons me to stay on the bridge of healing we have been graced to travel.

December 13, 2009
...God is a God of process.

...If I’m being completely honest I would tell you that I really wish God was using another process to teach me what He wants to at this point of my life. A process that didn’t include my brother hooked up to machines that are cleaning his blood out of his own antibodies that just one day decided to attack his brain. A process that didn’t include my family being separated from one another this holiday season. A process that didn’t include wringing me out in all ways possible where I am left to fight the enemy of my soul from stealing anything else that the Lord has deposited in me during this season.

But He is God and I am not.

I wouldn’t have chosen His process of bringing Salvation to the world either and then where would we be…

So what will be the end of this process for us?

I have no idea, but this is what I am believing for…

Jeremiah will be restored to full health...

Untold numbers of people will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus in and through the life and healing of my brother.

A marriage that will be a light and a testimony of God’s grace and faithfulness for my brother and sister-in-law. He will honor and uphold her for her devotion and commitment to her husband!

Knowing what I know now I am left in awe at the strategic ways God has used Jeremiah and Ashley for His Kingdom and they haven't even made it to the games yet! Like the t-shirt says, "We share in his sufferings so that we can share in his glory." 

The main thing we want you to take from this whole "Jeremiah for the Gold" thing is this...God is faithful, He has a plan for your life that is good and for His glory, and anything Jeremiah accomplishes in this season of restoration is the power of the Lord in him.

To God be all the glory!