Grateful…

AJ and I just got back from YL2020 in Orlando (the all staff conference that Young Life puts on every 4 years) …

The day before we left, I felt SO awful that I wanted to cry at the thought of even packing my suitcase. I prayed for wisdom, but really thought it seemed crazy to try to go. Somehow, I ended up in bed early that night with my suitcase packed and peace in my heart that I should give it my best. All I can say is that I truly felt prayed for!

This picture is of a gift from “the Africans” via our friend Emilie.  I met some of them at the conference and they immediately began praying for me and our family. I also went for healing prayer in the prayer room, and ran into so many people who told me that they are praying for us. I can’t even say how much this means to me.

This bracelet is a visible reminder to me of what I experienced last week…being reminded again and again that we are loved and prayed for, literally all over the world! Chronic illness is so isolating, and I am so truly blessed and encouraged by all the people praying for us, and am so reminded of God’s love for us, that we are not forgotten.

I’m so grateful to Young Life for the gift of this celebration, grateful to all those who prayed for me to be able to attend, and grateful to all those who are continuing to pray for us. I truly felt prayed for, was meant to be there, and it was miraculous that I could go and do as much as I did. God is at work in the midst of our struggles, and I’m grateful for all the love!

 

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Update from AJ & Kathy

Hello….It has been such a long time since I’ve written…

AJ & I sent this letter out to some friends and family recently, and I’m sharing it here as an update…

Dear Friends and Family, 

We are so thankful for each of you as we reflect on your kindness and generosity over this past year in helping us navigate a difficult and ongoing health scenario for our family.  This past year has brought some better understanding as to the cause of much of our suffering.  We are now aware that each member of our family tests very high for toxic mold, and that mold illness has triggered several other health issues which are complex and difficult to treat.  Also, test results for Lyme and co-infections have repeatedly come back negative for the last several years.  We believe that we are receiving, based on our research, the best possible medical treatment for our conditions both through our doctor in Irvine and a specialist in La Jolla. While we are grateful for their wisdom and efforts, unfortunately we have seen little relief from the symptoms and related suffering.  We continue to receive weekly treatment and follow an intense regimen of prescribed supplements and medications. 

In regards to an update on individuals:  Kathy, Betsy and Sam continue to be significantly incapacitated due to symptoms including extreme fatigue, nausea, dizziness, gut issues, and chronic pain.  In addition to mold illness, they have been diagnosed with resulting health issues including Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and POTS.  Max also experiences many of these symptoms, yet to a much lesser degree, which thankfully allows him to function well enough to stay in school and foster a moderate teenage social life.  Augie and I (AJ) continue to feel well and function at a normal level, yet recent tests indicate that we also have high levels of mold in our systems.  This does cause concern that symptoms similar to what the rest of the family is experiencing may manifest at some point. Hopefully this will not happen, but it is a significant concern to us.  Please join us in prayer that we will be able to eliminate these toxins from our bodies, that Augie and I will stay healthy, and for healing and restoration for our whole family.  We do not understand the ways that God is at work in our lives, and quite frankly would love for this season to be over, but we also know that He loves us and is holding us fast in the midst of our struggles.  We truly look forward to being with Jesus, with new bodies, and crowned with everlasting joy.  We have such precious promises to encourage us on this journey, and we are so grateful to know that there is great joy ahead!

In regards to our Helping Hands medical account, please know that your donations have blessed us greatly, and have been a much needed help every month with the staggering expenses that are above and beyond our health insurance coverage.  In 2018, we spent well over $50,000 in out of pocket medical expenses, and I suspect that the numbers for 2019 will be even higher when tallied.  Currently, our Helping Hands account is about to run out, and we are not sure how we will continue to keep up with our ongoing medical bills.  As a result, I am asking you to please prayerfully consider if you would like to donate to our account.  We truly recognize that not all of you are able to give, but we still thought you might appreciate reading this update, and we covet your prayers.  We are so grateful for your encouragement and support, whether spiritual, practical, or financial.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and thank you for prayerfully considering supporting us.

Love,

AJ and Kathy and family

P.S.  Please feel free to forward this to anyone who might like to read the update or to consider supporting us.  

Helping Hands donation link:

http://bit.ly/ajandkathydoeblingmedicalfund 

Doebling Medical Fund Instructions.pdf

California Living (Take Two)

It has been a very long time since I’ve posted anything, as the transition to life here in California (again) has been a difficult one.  Many people have asked me for an update, but I’ve honestly been so overwhelmed that I just haven’t been up to writing about our circumstances.

You may remember that we initially planned on living at camp, and then found out we had to purchase a home.  After that, the house we planned on buying fell through shortly before closing and a few days before the movers were supposed to come.  In the end, we moved to Oakbridge in the beginning of May and lived on camp for several months in a very small apartment under the office that only had a bar sink in the “kitchen.”  It was a little crazy with 5 humans and 2 large dogs crammed into such a tight space,  but overall it was a good experience.  We had our moments of melting in the heat and being a little too close for comfort, and carrying dishes and laundry up the hill to wash got old pretty quick.  However, I can truly say that I’m grateful for our time living at camp.  I’m so glad that we had a place to stay, and that our time there afforded us the sweet opportunity to get to know some of the wonderful people who work and volunteer at Oakbridge.

In July we moved into our new home, and moving twice honestly about killed us.  Just the physical aspect of moving is crazy even when you’re healthy, but moving two times with 4 chronically ill people was unbelievably hard.  My parents were a huge help in getting settled in; I honestly don’t know how we would’ve done it without them!  Even with their coming to help for a whole week, it was still so difficult.  Then of course there’s the emotional challenge of saying goodbye to dear friends and our whole support system, not to mention dealing with teenagers who were/are really unhappy about leaving.  Yet despite all this, we are so grateful to have a house to live in.  It’s a great house for us, and we are so appreciative of the ways that God provided to make this possible.   Currently, we are trying to work on our yard, as our new home is basically sitting in a big pile of dirt.  😉  Hopefully with cooler weather, we can have some trees planted and get some landscaping done.  Also, as I write this, I am especially mindful of the many dear friends and acquaintances we know from our time living in northern California, who are now dealing with burnt landscapes and homes that have been destroyed.  Our hearts go out to those who have lost everything, and it gives us an extra measure of gratitude for what we do have even in the midst of our trials.

Now for the health update… I don’t even know where to begin or what to say… it’s been really, really tough.  Initially, the lower elevation seemed to help us, but then our health began declining again.  Towards the end of summer, we started seeing a doctor in L.A. who is a Lyme specialist and clinical immunologist, and we have been undergoing new treatments with him for the last few months to treat Lyme and build our immune systems.  Unfortunately, we currently are feeling worse instead of better.  We are all experiencing a flare in symptoms, and we’re not sure why.

Kathy – My adrenal glands and thyroid are a wreck, and my energy levels are so low that I’m having a hard time getting out of bed.  I’m dragging myself through life, and just the basics like cleaning, grocery shopping, driving kids to school, making dinner….all of these seem like more than I can do at this point.  It’s overwhelming and I feel like I’m existing, not really living.  I don’t know how to keep up.  Also, I don’t often feel well enough to get out and do things to make friends, so it’s pretty isolating.  If I force myself to go out to an event, I can usually make it through with a good front, but then I’m in bed afterwards, often for the whole next day.  Expending energy is costly, so I have to choose how to use what little energy I do have in the wisest way.  Please pray for wisdom in treatment, for healing, for energy, and for practical provision of the things I can’t keep up with. 

Betsy also is continuing to struggle and seems to have grown worse.  She rarely leaves the house and has been unable to really participate in life.  I don’t want to share private details for her sake, but know that her life is really difficult and it breaks our hearts.  She asks me if she is going to get better and be able go to school, and it’s so hard to not have any answers for her.  Please pray for wisdom in treatment, for healing in every way, for hope, for trust in God, and for encouragement and comfort.  

Sam has had some improvement in his battle with nausea as we work to get his Celiac Disease under control, but he still wrestles with a lot of symptoms from that and from Lyme.  Max has been having a lot of joint and back pain and extreme fatigue.  Life has been really hard for him as well.  Both of the boys just want to be normal teenagers and be able to do things that “normal” teenagers do, but keeping up is really tough for them physically.  Please pray for wisdom in treatment, for healing in every way, for hope, for hearts that seek God, for endurance in keeping up with school, and for good and godly friends.

AJ is continuing to work overtime on taking care of all of us, not to mention dealing with difficult circumstances at work.  After we arrived here, he discovered that Oakbridge was not in good shape financially, which culminated in him having to make some really tough decisions.  Recently, he had to let several people go, which was painful and difficult on many levels for all involved.  This also leaves camp in a tough situation, and the AMAZING staff here working hard to serve our guests well with limited resources.  We love Oakbridge and the people here, and we are praying for God’s wisdom, provision, and direction.  Please pray for strength, comfort, hope, rest, protection, endurance, wisdom, and godly leadership for AJ.  Please also pray for God’s provision and direction for Oakbridge.

Honestly, all of this is more than we can bear.  It is NOT more than God can carry, but it is WAY beyond our limited abilities and strength.  We are deeply aware of the fact that we need God desperately each day.  The truth is that our situation is painful and it feels overwhelming, but we are reminded that He is in it with us.  I have been reflecting on this verse lately and finding much comfort:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.  Isaiah 43:2

He IS with us.  By His grace, the waters will NOT overflow us.  He walks through the fire with us, and ultimately nothing can scorch us.  We have a glorious future and inheritance awaiting for us because of what Jesus has done.  When I feel angry about the hard things that God has allowed, I remember what He has undeservedly and sacrificially given us already at the cross, and nothing can compare to that.  I don’t understand His ways or purposes or thoughts in our situation, but once again, I am reminded of the fact that He is simply good and trustworthy.  How can I not trust my God, the Man of Sorrows, the Suffering Servant, who suffered unimaginably for me so that I won’t have to suffer eternally?

So please pray for us, that we will keep our eyes on Jesus, and trust in Him no matter what comes our way.  Thank you for not forgetting us in our struggles, and for continuing to love us and pray for us!

Also, a dear friend has started a fundraiser to help us with some of our medical bills, which are extensive.  If you are interested in helping this way, here is the link:

https://www.youcaring.com/kathyandajdoebling-983374

Love, Kathy

We have a house and we’re moving!

Hi again,

Just thought I’d give another update….

We went back to California and spent a long week house hunting.  We started getting discouraged as the week went on, but then we found a great house right at the end of our time there.  We are so excited to say that we have purchased a home!  And, it’s actually a new build, so there should be no problems with the inspection or mold this time around! The house is about halfway done already, and will (hopefully, prayerfully) be finished by mid to late June.

In the meantime, we have packers coming tomorrow, the moving truck coming on Tuesday, and we pull out of Fraser on Wednesday morning! Lord willing, we will arrive at Oakbridge by Thursday night.

Since our home won’t be ready for some time, we will be putting our belongings in storage and staying at Oakbridge until the house is finished. There are a lot of pros and cons to this.  We are super excited for the chance to stay in camp and connect with people, build relationships, and be a part of all that goes on at a YL camp in the summer.  The challenging part is that we will have 5 humans (many of whom aren’t feeling well) and 2 large dogs living in about 700 square feet during this time, right in the middle of camp.  We are literally staying underneath the office.  There is a mini fridge and a bar sink and a microwave, so not much of a kitchen…but there is a dining hall! Again, lots of pros and cons and needs and uncertainties, so we continue to ask that you please keep us in your prayers as we make this move and go through these next few months of transition.

We are experiencing a lot of sadness as we say goodbye to beloved friends, but we are also excited for our new adventure and especially for some of that low elevation oxygen! Here are some specific prayer requests:

A.J. – Wisdom and strength and energy as he starts his new job!  For him to continue to love Jesus and love others well in the midst of all the changes ahead.

Kathy – Sleep and healing!  Sleep has been a tough one for me.  Also, that I would keep my eyes on Jesus and trust Him through the ups and downs of all the transition to come. Right now it feels like I’m barely going to make it through the next few days!

Augie – Is working a part time internship, is the team leader for his YL team,  and has a challenging load at school…so he is keeping pretty busy!  Pray for strength and wisdom and that he stays healthy!

Betsy – Sleep and healing as well.  She wants to be well enough to get her driver’s license, and at some point hopefully even a job.  Pray for meaningful connections and friendships for her, and for trust in God for her future.  We continue to ask God to rescue her and bind up her wounds.

Sam – Lots of anxiety and anger and sadness about moving still.  Also continuing to adjust to the Celiac diagnosis and learning how to manage that.  Pray for godly friends for Sam and for him to love and trust Jesus!  God seems pretty confusing to Sam right now.

Max – Also still not happy about moving.  Pray for godly friends and for him to love and trust Jesus as well.  We hope both the boys will feel well enough to be part of things at camp, especially while we’re staying at Oakbridge.

Dogs – This is a big concern for us!  2 Bernese Mountain dogs living in SoCal in the middle of a Young Life camp in 700 square feet is not ideal.  Ava is pretty chill, but Bert is only 2 years old and has LOTS of energy! There are a lot of things we’re nervous about, especially with managing and taking care of him in this situation. Please pray that God will bless us in this area and that it will go more smoothly than we could even hope for!

Thanks again for your love and prayers!

Love, Kathy & A.J.

Curveball?

Just a quick update and request for prayers…

The movers were supposed to be here today, and the plan was for us to pull out of Fraser tomorrow.  However, the purchase of the house that we were supposed to close on this week has fallen through.  This past Wednesday night we found out that there were major problems during the home inspection.  As you can imagine, being thrown a curveball like that within a few days of moving was quite emotional.  Yet at the same time, there are no surprises or curveballs for God.  He knows, and He knows what we need, and He cares for us.  He has also saved us from a house that had mold and would NOT have been good for us!  There are lots of emotions going on around here, and a lot of uncertainty for the kids especially, but we are actively choosing to trust God in the middle of these unknowns and what feels like a lot of limbo.

So….this morning, AJ and Betsy and I are flying back to CA for “House Hunting Take 2.”  The boys will be staying here with one of the camp interns (thank you Cole!) until we return.

Dear friends, would you please pray for the following?

  • God’s perfect choice of a house for us and the provision we need in every way to make the purchase happen….wisdom with finances, a great price, great interest rates, quick closing date, and anything else you can think of!  We are praying that He will show us exactly where He wants us to be in His perfect timing.

 

  • Strength and energy for the trip.  Betsy is coming along for the sunshine and oxygen, and we are praying the lower elevation will ease her suffering.  She has really been struggling even more than usual lately.  Also, Betsy and I both especially need energy and lots of good sleep.

 

Thanks for your prayers – we’ll keep you posted!  Love, Kathy & AJ

Lots of News…

Well, in case some of you haven’t heard….there are lots of changes happening around here!  (On the flip side, lots of things are still the same.) The big news is that we are moving to Young Life’s Oakbridge outside of San Diego, CA.  We will be living in Ramona (off camp) and are hoping to be there by the end of April or beginning of May.  AJ will be the Camp Manager there. We have realized over the last year or so that the elevation here in Fraser really has an impact on how we feel, and we have been praying for quite some time that the Lord would provide an opportunity for us to live in a place where we have a better chance of good health.  We have waited on the Lord as job possibilities have come and gone, and now we both have a real peace that this is where He is leading us.  We love Grand County, our community of people here, the mountains, and of course Crooked Creek Ranch, so we are very sad to leave, but also grateful for our time here and the many blessings we have experienced even in the midst of hard times.  At the same time, we are also grateful for this new opportunity to live at a lower elevation in a very different but also beautiful place.  So this is a bittersweet event for us with a full range of emotions from sadness to excitement.

Our health situation continues to be difficult, and we continue to struggle in many ways, so there are LOTS of prayer requests.  Here’s a brief update on each member of our family, along with things to pray for:

AJ – Sad to leave but wanting the best for our family as always.  Excited and at peace about the new opportunity as well.  Please pray for wisdom and endurance and strength.  The last few years have been pretty overwhelming for him as he has tried valiantly to keep up with all the needs on the home and work front.  Pray that God will give AJ all the help he needs to lead our family through this transition, and also for God to give AJ fresh strength for the new job ahead. AJ is so faithful and I could not be more grateful for who God has made him to be and how he loves us all so well.

KATHY – I am so tired there are no words to describe it.  My body is very weak and weary.  I am totally at peace that this move is the right thing, but also a little overwhelmed at the physical process of moving and starting over.  One day at a time.  Often, one moment at a time.  Jesus is giving me what I need as I need it, and I am so grateful for His love and provision and presence.  He is very good and life is very hard all at the same time!  Please pray for strength and energy and healing and endurance physically and emotionally as we make this move and try to help our kids through this tough change.  Lots of emotions to navigate around here!

AUGIE – Junior at Cal Poly and doing great.  He loves his school, his classes, his friends, being a YL leader….life is pretty great for him at this point! He also has another internship this summer with a company in SLO that he’s pretty excited about.  We are all excited to be living in the same state again (SLO is about 6 1/2 hours from Ramona) and that we will be able to see each other more often.  Pray for Augie to continue to grow in his love for Jesus and for his protection.

BETSY – Completely thrilled to be moving to a lower elevation in a location with no moose. Please pray for healing and strength and energy for her.  She has been very sick and is currently not doing well at all physically.  Our hope and prayer for Betsy is that she will love and trust Jesus no matter what comes her way, and that He will rescue her and bind up her wounds.  We also hope and pray that the lower elevation will help her to heal, and that by fall 2018 she will be ready to pursue her dream of attending the Royal School of Needlework in London.

SAM – Poor Sam was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease and told about the move all in the same week!  That’s a lot for a 16 year old to digest and a lot of emotions to manage.  He is very sad about the move (and the Celiac!) and doesn’t want to go.  He struggles with nausea, reflux, stomach issues, fatigue, and has a lot of anxiety about an unknown future as well.  Please pray for Sam to be able to love and trust God in the midst of so many conflicting and difficult emotions.  Pray that Sam would know that God is for him and never against him, and that Sam would experience the peace and trust that only Jesus can bring.  Also, please pray for healing, for wisdom in school choices in Ramona, and for good new friends for him.

MAX – Also very unhappy about the move and not wanting to leave.  He is very sad about leaving friends behind and starting over.  In addition, he has been feeling pretty bad lately physically.  Please pray for him to also be able to love and trust God in the midst of these changes and all the hard things our family has experienced over the last few years.  Our situation has affected each one of us in different ways, and we pray that Max would know that Jesus loves him and is completely trustworthy and worthy of his worship.  Also, pray for healing, wisdom in school choices in Ramona, and good new friends for him.

GENERAL – We found out that the house on camp that we were going to live in at Oakbridge has had some flooding problems.  That can mean mold, which for us is an impossibility.  Mold is not good for anyone, but it is devastating for someone with Lyme.  So, we now find ourselves suddenly in the position of having to buy a house in Southern California! Yikes!  Please pray that God would provide exactly what we need.  AJ and I are leaving on Saturday to go house hunting and look at one house in particular that we’re interested in.  We need lots of wisdom in this process as it’s a pretty big deal for us!

Thanks for your prayers, and for your love and care for our family.  Recently, we’ve had friends bringing us meals, shopping for our groceries, giving rides to doctor appointments, rides from the airport, staying with the kids and I while AJ was out of town, volunteering to help us pack, and even having a prayer and worship night for our family.  Words cannot express our gratitude to God for the people in our lives that are serving as His hands and feet to us in so many ways.  Though we are sorrowful, yet we are always rejoicing. (2 Corinthians 6:10)

Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.  Isaiah 50:10

Please pray for us

It’s time once again for an update…

Friends, we need your prayers.

Since I last posted, there has been a lot going on in our lives.  This past spring, we had mold testing done on our home, based on our doctor’s suspicions that mold could be a factor in our battle with illness and lack of progress in recovering.  The tests confirmed the presence of mold in our home due to some previous water leaks, and blood work confirmed mold toxicity/illness in our bodies.  Mold is obviously not good for anyone’s health, but it is especially devastating if you have chronic illness.  As a result, we had mold remediation done on our home this summer.  The kids and I spent an extended period of time with family in Michigan during the remediation process.  Hopefully, having the mold issue taken care of will make a difference.

We saw our Lyme doctor at the end of the summer, and had some good news and bad news.  The bad news:  Betsy and I are getting worse.  Our doctor said the Lyme was making a comeback in Betsy’s brain, causing continued neurological issues.  For me, the Lyme continued to attack my spine and the doctor prescribed a month of intramuscular injections since the oral medications were not effective.  Basically, AJ had to give me a shot in the rear end 3 x week for a month.  So much fun, let me tell you.  Now, for the good news:  Sam has been declared Lyme free!  The doctor feels that Lyme has been eradicated from his body, and we are so grateful!

Since then, however, things have gotten worse.  Betsy continues to struggle, and the neurological effects are very difficult at this point.  She is really having a hard time.  The intramuscular injections prescribed for me did not work, and my pain levels are increasing.  In addition, lab work showed that my adrenal glands are shot and my cortisol levels are dangerously low.  This explains the extreme fatigue and other symptoms I’ve been having.  However, the typical treatment for this involves hydrocortisone, which is a steroid that I cannot take because of Lyme.  Also, Sam is going to the doctor today because he is continuing to have issues with nausea and fatigue  and we’re not sure what’s going on.  Max is about the same – he started school recently, and seems to be doing okay so far, but we are uncertain as to whether or not he can keep this up long term.  The Lyme seems to flare up unexpectedly for him, and we never know what we’re going to get.

I saw our Lyme doctor again last week for follow up on the injections, and he basically told me that we’re running out of options.  He said that Betsy and I are very tough cases.  As a result, we are heading to Texas next week for appointments with a new doctor that we hope will be able to help us.

Would you please pray for us?  We are honestly frequently at the end of our rope.  This has been such a long journey (over 3 years now) and we are weary.  We are so grateful that God is in this battle with us (I would’ve lost it a long time ago were it not for His faithfulness) and we know that He loves us and is in control, but we regularly come to a place of brokenness.  Sometimes daily, sometimes more than that.  God always sees us through as we cry out to Him, but there’s no sugar-coating the fact that this is HARD and PAINFUL.  Each one of us has our own unique struggles in keeping up and managing in daily life.  AJ has to keep working and providing for our family in the midst of taking care of all of us.  I have to keep trying to be a wife and mother and be there for suffering kids while suffering myself.  The kids have to try to keep up with school and life in the midst of not feeling well.  It’s tough.  And yet, there’s the unfathomable, undeserved love of God.  What else could possibly give us courage and confidence and hope in the midst of suffering?

“The thought of my suffering and hopelessness is bitter beyond words.  I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.  Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:  The unfailing love of the Lord never ends!  By His mercies we have been kept from complete destruction.”  Lamentations 3:13, 19-22

Here are some specific things you can pray for:

  • Healing
  • Our doctor appointments in Texas next week
  • Wisdom in finding out what’s going on with Sam’s health issues
  • Practical provision – things like rides home from school, easy meals, rides to doctor’s appointments, help with homework, etc.  It’s hard for us to manage and keep up.
  • For each of us to keep our eyes on Jesus and to trust Him, lean on Him, and honor Him in the midst of this battle
  • Hope and encouragement

Thanks for reading this.  I know it’s long!  We appreciate your love and prayers.