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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
According to my birth certificate and our bathroom mirror, I’m about to turn 50 years old. I was born in April of 1965, so it all adds up. But for some reason, in my head and heart, it doesn’t. I still feel like a young man in my late 20’s or early 30’s at the most. I guess most men around my age always feel younger than they actually are…or at least they want to.
The first birthday I remember that my father had was when he turned thirty-eight. We lived in an old farmhouse that we’d rented just outside of Highland, KS and I remember the big “3” and “8” candles on his cake. The funny thing is though…he was already old, at least he was to me. I wonder if he knew he was old then. Or if he felt like I do when he was the age I am now. My father passed away at 51, so I never got to have a conversation with him about growing up or growing old. I’ve just had to try to figure it out, and as you can tell, I haven’t yet. Part of me hopes I never will.
I have always wanted to make a family trip back to Hawaii. I was stationed there when I was in my early twenties (or maybe I was already old?), and Heidi and Hopie were just babies. And though they’ve seen it in pictures in our photo albums and I have memories of living there… I’ve always wanted to go back, to bring my family and experience it one more time. So this year, for my upcoming fiftieth birthday, Joey arranged for us all to go spend one week on Oahu and one week on the Big Island.
It was a magical trip. In late February, we packed our bags full of warm weather clothes (I promised Joey and the girls that I wouldn’t even take a pair of bib overalls with me, and I didn’t) and said goodbye to the ice and the cold and landed in beautiful sunny paradise… me, Joey, Heidi, her husband Casey, Hopie and our little Indiana.
For two weeks, we didn’t just walk down memory lane… we made incredible memories that will last a lifetime! We walked beaches, hiked craters, caught waves, climbed volcanos, road catamaran’s, drank mai-tai’s and even blew out a few candles together. It was our favorite vacation we’ve ever taken. Most of the trips that we call family vacations, are actually places where we’re playing a show and try to fit in a few days of being tourists around it. This one was different. There was no music, no plan, no rush… just us all being together as a family. I loved it.
I didn’t bring a camera with me on this trip, but since Joey and I became iPhone people again a couple months ago… I made sure to capture some of my favorite moments with mine. We’ve been back home for a few weeks now, but I still find myself still listening to some of the island music we listened to when we were there. We built a fire the other night in the campfire pit in the backyard and Joey and I and Indy sat together and watched the sun go down and flames rise up, while we listened to an open-tuned Hawaiian guitar play a beautiful melody. It took us back…