Happy Thanksgiving! Yesterday, a friend of mine sent me this picture of her daughter’s “grateful tree” and the first leaf where she wrote, “JMak.” It’s so beautiful to see the ongoing impact that JMak has on so many people.
On this first Thanksgiving without JMak here physically, I know what he would say. He would say that he’s grateful too. Grateful for the opportunity he had to get to know God in a very deep and very real way in his journey with #pancreaticcancer. And how that brought healing and freedom that filled him in a way that nothing else did.
So on this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for this sweet reminder of all the ways JMak lived and loved and for the lessons he continues to teach me. #LiveLikeJMak
These pictures were taken a year ago today—on the day JMak went to his oncology team to say he was discontinuing treatment. He woke up that day excited, settled, and not at all afraid.
I just listened again to the podcast where he talked about coming to the decision. He said that the more you die and let go—even of your own life and desires, the more power you get because you are confident that God is going to give you something better. He was experiencing that power and strength as he was literally letting go of his life. I watched it firsthand and can only call it supernatural!
That decision to stop treatment represented putting his life wholly in God’s hands. He knew God to be a good Father—a Father that gives good gifts. As he made that decision, he told me he had never been so confident of God’s love and the fact that NOTHING can separate us from it. He was confident in what God was giving him to do. There was no denial about what that meant or about facing his launch day.
We drove to the appointment and talked the whole way. We talked about living and loving and knowing that God has a good purpose and plan in all things. We may not always understand it, but it is always good.
He talked about how good life is with God here and how close he felt to God as he fully let go and trusted Him with everything. And he also talked about things God was showing him about life beyond earth. He would say, "It’s a win-win. I either live here with God or I live there with God."
Both are good and I started to see life in Jason that had nothing to do with his physical health. When he was connected to God, he was vibrant and alive—even as his body was rapidly declining.
I've continued learning that for myself this year too. When I am connected to God, I am vibrant and alive and healthy. And that’s when I feel Jmak the most. And that makes me happy. It's a daily thing and there is still much to live for and live out as I follow his example of letting go and living. That's how I carry on his legacy.
After the appointment on this day last November, JMak said "Let’s go live."
And so we did…and had these giant ice cream cones for lunch. He launched a month later.
Look at the face in this picture. That is the face of someone truly living.
Kelvin, Mary and their three girls are resettled in the Atlanta area with stable jobs, safe housing and a community of people to help them get on their feet. The family is staying with one of JMak’s friends as they get settled. Their lives now are a far cry from the 10x10 foot room where they lived in Lima before. About his new life in the U.S., Kelvin told us, “I have been in the United States for almost three months, and since I arrived, I have felt a lot of support from JMak’s Dream Team. I am so grateful I met JMak. I recently started a new job, and I'm very excited for what will come next. Thank God for this community.” The girls now have plenty to eat and places to play, and Kelvin and Mary are now dreaming dreams of their own to go back to school and save up for their daughters’ college one day.