stage 4 love

Stage 4 cervical cancer.

The doctors say there is a 9 cm tumor in Joey’s sigmoid colon.  Even though the cancer is now in the colon, they said it’s the same cells as before (she was diagnosed with cervical cancer last year and had surgery last June to remove the tumor), and that the original cancer has now spread to a new organ and the tumor and cells are rapidly growing, so that is the big concern.

As I write this… my wife is in her garden, the baby on a blanket near her.  She’s weeding her squash, and broccoli and kale, and the cucumbers that have just poked their heads up out of the soil.  But she’s not just tending to her vegetables – she’s tending to her soul.  Walking and talking with God.

 

And all the while, she’s growing healthy food for her husband and baby to eat.  Food that God makes, not science.  The kind that you can’t put a price on, at least not in a grocery store.  That’s one of her passions.  She doesn’t do it because it’s easy (especially for her right now), she does it because it’s important to her.

There are many things that are very important to my wife, and those things never change, they never waver.  Not through good times or bad times, not through tears or joy.  She knows what the good stuff in life is and she reaches for it and pushes away the things that don’t matter.  She’s always been this way.  I wish I was more like her… and that it came easy to me.  I have to work at it.  It’s just part of her… like breathing air, or loving Indy.

 

One of the first songs we ever wrote together was about the things that are important to her, and now 13 years after writing it… day in and day out, those things that were important to her, still are.  We recorded that song a few years ago and made a video for it that not many folks have probably seen.  One of my favorite things about making music videos or television shows or even these blog posts… is that we get to capture a moment in our lives.  Forever.

This moment was April 1st 2010…

 

If you know Joey, you can imagine that she doesn’t just want to go through chemo and radiation (and surgery again if needed) to aggressively treat the cancer, she wants a place where that will integrate natural diet and supplements to help counteract the chemo and radiation effects and build her immunities back up to help fight the cancer cells… a place that will embrace her faith as a part of the healing process.. and that isn’t afraid to take some unusual approaches if needed to try to heal her body.  And above that, she wants a place where she feels like she has real hope.  So do I.

So next week, we are going to Chicago to have Joey looked at at a cancer treatment center there.  We will take Indy with us and one of Joey’s sisters will be with us while she’s there for a few days being evaluated.  Our hope is that we’ll spend a good portion of the summer there, and then by harvest time in her garden, she’ll have her rubber boots on and will be up and down those rows gathering the harvest that the Lord has provided.  And like most falls, she’ll spend countless days canning and freezing and cooking what she grew, the hard way.

 

I can’t begin to tell you how much love and support we’ve received in the last 5 days through emails, calls, texts, flowers, cards, gifts and above all prayers.  Prayers and more prayers.   Prayers for the cancer to go away… prayers for strength for Joey through this… prayers for me and Heidi and Hopie… and oh, the prayers for our little Indiana.

We’ve been shown lots of love before from friends and family, from fans and strangers.  But this… this is a whole other level of love.  From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.

a prayer for cancer

There are few words scarier than the word “cancer”.  In our culture these days, we usually think that’s as bad as it can get.  But when you hear a doctor say the words “the cancer’s come back”… it’s a whole new level of scary.

Last year – this exact time last year actually – Joey went in to surgery for cervical cancer.  The doctors felt like they got everything and after a few weeks of healing, she made a full recovery.  And now here we are again, faced with a similar situation.

Over the last couple of months, Joey hasn’t been feeling well.  She had hoped that it was just a stomach virus or an intestinal issue, but after many tests and biopsies, it turns out that it’s more than that.

On Thursday, Joey had a port put in for chemotherapy and radiation.  She starts the treatments in the coming week.

Here’s what the doctors think…

With six weeks of chemo and radiation, the tumor may reduce in size and possibly even go away completely, and if so, she won’t have to have any further surgeries.  If the chemo and radiation doesn’t work like they hope, Joey will be in for an even tougher road ahead.

Here’s what Joey and I know…

God has a plan, and His plan is our plan.  Each day that we’re given is a beautiful gift from Him to us.  And while we will pray each day for a miracle, we’re gonna live each day as if it’s a miracle.  And it is.

“Lord, as believers… we trust you completely and pray for your will to be done.  Not ours.

But as flesh and bone, husband and wife… we pray for complete and total healing in Joey’s body, so we can grow old together, holding hands in rockers on our front porch watching the sun go down.

So that our sweet little baby Indiana can not miss one precious moment with her mama.

Amen.  Amen.  Amen.”

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behind the scenes of Josephine

After two months in Virginia, we’re finally back home in Tennessee enjoying a wonderful, rainy week at our farm.  Joey’s garden is tilled and planted, our chickens are in full production and little Indiana is learning new things every day.  She’s now 15 months old and though she can pull herself around a little by her arms, she still hasn’t discovered that she has legs.  So while some little ones at her age are “walkers”, or “crawlers”… our little Indy is still a “sitter”.  That’s good for us.  It means more time with her in our laps and arms.  She will be mobile soon enough, and mama and papa will spend the rest of our lives following after her.

As for the movie… the filming has been completed.  It is “in the can” as they say.  Actually, it’s on a hard-drive right here next to me.  I’m planning to spend the summer here in the barn editing the film.  Myself and a couple other guys on our team will be working for the next few months on editing, sound-mixing, coloring, creating a movie soundtrack and a hundred other things –  hoping to have the final film ready to submit to Sundance in September or to take down some other path that this movie leads us.  As I sit here looking through all the beautiful footage we shot, I’m humbled by a number of things:

First off – how hard this has been.  Getting the whole production together and accomplishing the filming of the movie has been the most difficult thing that I, and most of my friends, have ever done.  The stress we all felt was immense (I thought I was going to have a heart-attack a couple times…we hardly slept… and we barely got everything shot in the amount of time and money that we had available to us).  It literally came down to the last second, of last minute of the last hour of the day most days.. but somehow, we did it.

Secondly and more importantly – is how incredible this experience has been.  It’s been the single most rewarding and beautiful creative thing I’ve ever been part of.  Dozens of people – actors and crew from all over the country – came together to work on a story that that they loved and believed in… a story that Aaron and I dreamed up in our heads.   Since late March, together we restored a run-down farmstead, built a train-car and a slave cabin, created tent-cities and burned down a plantation (through movie magic) and it was all in service of one woman and her pursuit to find the man she loved.  I don’t know what the outcome of our film will be – whether it’ll get to play in theaters, or go straight to DVD or online.  Whether it will make any money or our investor will see any profit.  But I know that it’s already been SO, SO, SO worth it to me.   I’m forever changed by Josephine’s story…and bring part of the story of bringing her story to life.

And lastly, I’m incredibly humbled that somehow, we raised over $120,000 during our 30 day Kickstarter campaign.  Thank you to everyone who pledged, or prayed or just smiled when they watched our Kickstarter video.   It all makes a difference.  And the money we’ve raised will help us turn all these files on this hard-drive into a real, live movie.  A movie we will have all made together.

Besides our film crew, there were a number of folks with cameras there in Virginia helping us document the whole experience…  James Edmunds, Stephanie Richer, Casey Pierce, Aaron Carnahan, Keith Hunley and many others.  Below is a video I put together from the images that came from their cameras and iPhones.  It’s a small glimpse “behind the scenes” of the making of the movie Josephine.

making a movie

In the past few months, I haven’t been able to post on my blog as often as I’d like to.   This is why…

 

To undertake something so big is incredibly exciting and completely terrifying at the same time.  Joey and Indy are with me in Virginia and I’m not sure who’s more excited about making this movie… Joey, or me.  She’s here making us all amazing meals and making sure I’m okay and taking care of myself during these long days and short nights – through the stress and the joy that comes with making an epic civil war movie on a small budget.  Both of our older daughters, Heidi and Hopie are here working on the film too.  It doesn’t just feel like a family of people making this movie… in  that way, it is one.

For the next couple of months, most of my posts will probably be scenes from someone working on scenes about someone else.  Trying to stay grounded, and see how high your dreams can take you at the same time.

If you’d like to learn more about the movie Josephine, or find out about possibly helping us see this project through, please check out our Josephine kickstarter page – http://kck.st/1JQHgbT.   If nothing else, we’d love it if you would keep us in your thoughts and prayers over the next few weeks as we walk hand-in-hand down a road we’ve never been down before.

 

a year of firsts

I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s happened in our world since I started this blog.  How much my life has changed and how I had no idea what was in store for us when I made my first post in January 2014.   I began that year believing that God was going to give us a great story to live and He did.  And He’s still giving us one today.  After a year of writing, filming and sharing scenes from my life, I find myself in awe of where we’ve been and excited to learn where this journey will lead us next.

Lately Joey has been teaching Indiana to tell us how old she is.  She asks “how old are you Indy?” and Indiana  puts her little hand in the air and raises one finger.  It’s just precious.

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Watching her and Joey together… reminds me that it’s been an incredible year of firsts in our home.

For Indiana, it was her first breath, her first coo, her first smile, her first laugh, her first kiss… and ultimately, her first birthday.

Indy 1st Bday-2

For Joey, it was her first pregnancy, her first home-birth, her first baby and a thousand other firsts for her daily since then.  It was her first feeling of motherhood – of truly giving herself totally to someone else.  Her first feeling of knowing what life is really all about.  And it was also a last for Joey… her last baby.  She loves being a mommy so much that after Indy was born, she wondered and prayed, if we could or should have more children – and God answered.  It may have came in the form of cancer, but it was really just a clear “no, my child…this is the life I have planned for you”.  And what a life it is!

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And as for me… it was my first time to be in the room to watch a life being born and a few months in another room watching another life pass away right in front of my eyes.  To see someone I love not only stop breathing and die, but also to see her truly live each and every day like there is no tomorrow.  My mother’s courage in her last months, weeks and days was inspiration to me and to everyone around her.

Mom's 70th bday

I want THIS LIFE I LIVE to matter.  To not look back and wish that I had done something different.  To dream incredible dreams and risk being a fool for something that I believe in.  To say something or create something that can make a difference in someone’s life, including mine.

So, we all spent Easter this year in Virginia.  We’re still here as a matter of fact.  Making a movie.  Josephine.  Another first.  We’ll be here for the next 6 weeks – daring greatly – as a family.

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