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:

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.


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.




How it’s going…

Hi friends!  The last time I updated, AJ had just begun his time off.  As you may remember, he was given 2 months off of work in order to process and heal and spend time with our family.  I am so incredibly grateful for the time he was given, as it turned out to be an invaluable blessing for us all.  We knew that the time off would be helpful, but we had no idea how much we really needed it until we got into it!  Having the time and the space to face up to the challenges and issues in our lives was so important and a true gift.

The first month was really tough as we began to work through all that happened last summer, and really over the last few years.  There were lots of tears and hard conversations – between us and with God!  We had been living in crisis mode for a long time, trying to keep going and get through to the other side.  However, while coping mechanisms developed in crisis are good and necessary at the time, they don’t serve you well long term.  It was good for us to recognize how we had been living in crisis mode and what we needed to do differently.  Instead of trying to just get by and make it through to the other side, we were able to come to terms with our situation in a healthier way.  After all the tears of the first month, we then began to figure out where to go next and how to live in the new “normal.”

We continue to hope and pray that God will heal us completely, but until that time, we want to live well within the limitations and challenges that we face.  During AJ’s second month off, we came up with a lot of practical solutions to help make life work, such as hiring someone to clean and getting help with things like grocery shopping and rides home from school. Also, God directed us to many helpful guidelines and tools for staying connected to each other and to Him as we walk through the daily ups and downs of life with teenagers and chronic illness.

AJ went back to work on February 1st, and I’m happy to say that we are in a much better place than we were before his time off.  Life is still challenging, and can feel overwhelming at times, but we are SO grateful for all that He has done in our hearts and minds.  We also truly appreciate the friends that God has blessed us with, and those who help us in so many practical ways.  AJ is enjoying his job again, and is living with better boundaries and more margin for rest.  I am also in a healthier place emotionally and spiritually, and God has given me an immense gratitude for his His goodness and faithfulness to us.  While I wish that lots things were different in our lives, I am awed by all that He has blessed us with.  He certainly doesn’t promise to keep us from suffering on this earth, but He is a God who has known more suffering than we ever could, and it is such a joy that He walks with us and comforts us in all our sorrows.  Not to mention, someday we get to live in a place with no sorrow or suffering – hallelujah!!!  While I don’t understand all that He does or allows, He continues to remind me that He is completely good, completely faithful, and completely trustworthy.  Whatever He does towards us, He does in love.

Going forward, we continue to covet your prayers on our behalf.  Also, another summer of YL camping is coming up soon, and we are praying that this summer will be much better than the last one!  AJ is working with the team at Crooked Creek to develop some new prayer strategies, and we would love your prayers for camp and for our staff as well as for our family.  By the way, if you haven’t read John Eldredge’s newest book “Moving Mountains,” we highly recommend it!  I didn’t think I would be interested in his writing, but it’s an excellent book on prayer.

So, here are some specific requests:

AJ – Continued hope and encouragement.  Keeping his eyes on Jesus when difficulties arise.  Rest and margin and exercise – taking care of himself so that he can care for others.  Wisdom in leading the team at CCR.  Holy Spirit filled praying!

Kathy – Healing.  Hope.  Trust.  Rest.  Continued confidence in God’s goodness and faithfulness.  Intimacy with Him.  Strength and energy to care for my family and love them well.  Also that He will give me a ministry and a message out of these circumstances that will bring Him glory.

Augie – Wisdom at school and in relationships and life choices.  Favor in his ministry to high school kids through Young Life.  Intimacy with Jesus – that spending time alone with God each day would be his highest priority in the midst of all that fun he’s having! 🙂

Betsy – Healing physically and emotionally.  She is still very traumatized from the moose attack and is afraid to go outside.  Pray that God will come and rescue her and bind up her wounds and set her free from fear.  Strength and ability to focus and get school work done. Ability to trust God with all of the hard things in her life – to see and know His goodness and His love for her.

Sam – Continued healing – Sam has made a lot of progress but we want him all the way better!  Hope and confidence in God.  That God would be the desire of his heart, and that he would seek God and get his questions about faith answered.

Max – Healing.  He is now the same age as Sam was when he had to drop out of school, and hitting puberty has caused the Lyme to flare up.  Max has really gone downhill health-wise, and we are hoping and praying that he will be able to stay in school.  Right now he’s very up and down and is missing a lot of school.  Pray for hope and encouragement and trust in God as well.

Thanks, friends, for loving us and praying for us.  We recognize that we are most certainly not the only ones with hardships and suffering in life – we know many who are struggling and facing major heartaches.  We would love to pray for you as well, so feel free to share your prayer requests and we can lift each other up!  God is so good to listen to us and to bear our burdens for us.

Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7




Once again, it’s been quite a long time since I’ve updated this blog.  So much has happened, and I was honestly too overwhelmed to write anything for awhile.  Life in the Doebling home has been pretty challenging for several years now, and this summer things became even more difficult.

As you know, Betsy has continued to struggle with Lyme, and her young life has included a lot of suffering.  Two of her greatest joys (besides sewing and crafts) have been nature and our Bernese Mountain Dogs. No matter how bad she felt, she would try to get out each day and take them for a short walk.  Walking them was one of the few things that she could still do, and it brought her so much pleasure.  She was doing exactly that this past June when she was attacked by a moose behind our home.  AJ and I heard the attack and her screams from our bedroom window, and although we did not know it was her at the time, we knew someone was in serious trouble and went running to help.  We found her in the road and took off for the ER.  The moose trampled her as she tried to run away, kicking her in the head, face, and back.  She had corneal abrasions to her left eye, multiple fractures around her eye, a concussion, lacerations…not to mention a lot of physical pain and emotional trauma.  The moose tried to circle around and get her a second time, but she fell down the hill into some bushes, and our dogs chased the moose off.  It actually jumped right over the top of her as it ran away.  I can’t even imagine if that moose had been able to get to her a second time, and as awful as the attack was, we are grateful, knowing that it could’ve been much worse.  Over time, Betsy’s physical injuries have slowly healed; however, the emotional trauma of the attack is still significant.  She is afraid to go outside, and no longer wants to walk the dogs.  Nature is now a source of fear for her instead of enjoyment.  I’m not sure there are words to describe how that makes me feel as her mom…I’ve had to wrestle with God through quite a lot of emotions including grief, fear, anger, helplessness, and more.  In the end, although I don’t understand, He has reminded me of His goodness and trustworthiness.  I don’t know what He’s doing, but I do know who He is, and He is our faithful, loving, and always good God who has good plans for each of us, including Betsy.

The rest of the summer continued to be difficult, with AJ having the hardest summer he’s ever had in Young Life camping.  It was that way for many YL camps, and for all of our staff at Crooked Creek.  There were multiple issues and situations all summer long that were draining, exhausting, challenging, and all-consuming.  Before camp started, AJ and I had discussed the need for him to set some boundaries and try to be at home as much as possible given all that’s going on with our family. However, it turned out that we saw less of him than we have during any other YL summer.  He went at least 6 weeks without a single day off, and was rarely home – not for lack of wanting to be, but because of the things that happened and because that is what he needed to do.  So, we were all limping across the finish line this summer…and then on the last day of camp, a 15 year old camper snuck out of his cabin at night and died in a freak accident.  Again, there are no words to describe the situation, but it was awful.  AJ was at the helm, and he led well, but it obviously took a huge toll on him and everyone at CCR.

Fall brought the sadness of Augie going back to college, although we are so incredibly happy for him and the life that he’s getting to live.  He is leading Young Life at Paso Robles High School, having fun going to school at the beach, enjoying his classes, and generally loving life!  Cal Poly has been great for him.  Also, we decided to put Sam back in school, which felt like a big gamble, but has turned out to be a blessing.  He still has Lyme, and definite struggles along with that, but he has made a lot of progress!  School is physically and academically challenging for him, and he is one exhausted boy, but we are celebrating what he’s been able to do in returning to school.  It’s a challenge for him, but still a victory.

However, at home we continue to struggle through the daily challenges and relational dynamics of chronic illness.  Betsy and I are still in a pretty tough place physically.  Add to that the emotional stress resulting from all that occurred this summer (really the last few years), and it makes for a pretty difficult situation for all of us.  Consequently, the leadership of Young Life has given AJ a paid leave of absence for a few months in order for him and our family to circle the wagons, spend time together, process all that’s happened, seek healing, and try to figure out a new normal.  We are incredibly grateful for this gift.  To know that they value his leadership and want to do all that they can to help us is a blessing beyond words.

AJ’s time off began on December 1st.  This past week, he spent 5 days in Buena Vista on a counseling intensive/retreat.  I went on this same intensive in September, and he saw the same counselor that I did.  The time was a blessing for both of us.  It’s really hard and really good to process all of these things, and to connect with the Lord is obviously essential in the midst of our grieving.  Also, in January we are going on a retreat together at The Potter’s Inn, which is in Divide, Colorado.  We have opted not to go to the YL All Staff Celebration in January as well.  As much as we are sad to miss it (seriously!), we know that it’s the right thing to do. We want to do everything we can to take advantage of the time off that AJ’s been given, and to be intentional during the time so that we can make the most of it.

So….there’s a long update on the Doeblings.  A Scripture that really sums up where we’re at is this:

I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness.  Misery has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within.  BUT I AM TRUSTING YOU, O LORD, saying, “You are my God!”  My future is in Your hands.  -Psalm 31:10, 14-15

Life is hard and God is good!  We continue to covet your prayers for us, especially during these next few months.  Thanks for loving us and praying for us.  May He bless you richly with His faithful Presence.


AJ – Wisdom in leading our family and knowing how take care of himself while balancing all that God has given him to do at work and at home.  It’s a heavy load!  Comfort and rest and emotional healing – he misses me being “me” and having a wife that can do things with him.  Pray that God would lead his time off and show AJ what He desires.  Pray for AJ and I to love each other well and be each other’s biggest fans in the midst of the struggles.

KATHY – Physical healing.  Wisdom.  Strength to surrender to God each day and choose to trust Him.  I want to focus on what is true and eternal in the face of heartache and confusion.  Joni Eareckson Tada says “Suffering is the last frontier that the enemy exploits to smear God’s trustworthiness.”  I want to trust Him no matter what, but it’s a daily choice.  He proved His love for me at the cross.  That is who He is, and I want to always remember that!

AUGIE – School, leading YL, friendships…his own love relationship with Jesus.  He comes home TOMORROW for Christmas break!  Pray for our time – we are all so excited to see him!

BETSY – Physical healing.  Emotional healing, especially from moose attack.  She is afraid to go outside.  Hope and encouragement.  Sometimes she feels like God’s given up on her.  Pray for strength/willingness to seek counseling and try to deal with her emotions in the midst of not feeling well.  Pray that God will come and rescue her and bind up her wounds.  Also, she is having her wisdom teeth out on 12/29.  Because of her Lyme issues, I’m pretty nervous about that.  Please pray for her protection and that whole process.

SAM – Continued physical healing.  Sleep at night.  Energy and strength, especially for school.  He is pretty fried and really ready for Christmas break.  Especially pray for his relationship with God.  I am asking God to reveal Himself to Sam in significant ways, so that Sam can trust and hope in Him.  There’s a lot of confusion there.

MAX – Physical healing.  As Max goes through puberty (he’s 13) the Lyme may get worse.  We’re praying that’s not the case, and that he will be able to continue to function fairly normally and stay in school.  Pray for emotional healing and ability to trust God as well.  There’s a lot of sadness and frustration in his heart underneath that crazy, fun exterior.