"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"

Philippians 4:13

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Happy Birthday Jeff

Yesterday marked six months when Jeff went home, cancer free, to Heaven.  Today, March 9, would have been his 25th birthday.
 
A lot has happened since Jeff went to be at peace.  His second nephew was born, holidays, birthdays and more.  It is still surreal to us that he is gone, it seems that hardly any time has passed at all.  We are blessed with so many great memories of love, strength, friendship and unwavering faith with Jeff.  For that we are so thankful.  Happy Birthday in Heaven Jeff.  We love and miss you more than ever and forever will.
 
 
 

 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Jeff's Prophecy-The Video

The ceremony for Jeff was amazing.  We celebrated who he was and who he will forever be in our hearts.  The turnout for Jeff was more than we expected and truly touching.  We knew he was loved but to see it all in one room really moved us.
 
I have finally gotten the video uploaded and am thrilled to share his testimony and prophecy with you.  As I explained before, we were camping Up North and this was recorded while he was resting.  You will see and hear him thanking God over and over again in the beginning of the video.  This still moves me to tears hearing a man who is sick with brain cancer thanking God when many others would blame God.  His heart was so pure and full of God's love he radiated it.  He then lifts his hands to praise God, I've edited a lot of the silence out of the video but his hands were raised like that for over 9 minutes.  I've tried this, I cannot do it.  He was so weak and he did it.  I have no doubt that he was not alone in that room...
 
You will also see him moving his lips but not talking, I believe with all my heart that this is where God is speaking to him.  Right after his silent prayer he begins explaining that he will sleep for ten days, believe and trust in nothing but God for ten days and he says "I will see you then God".  He did just that, exactly ten days after this video was taken he left this earth to take his place in heaven with God. 
 
 
 
Thank you again for all your prayers, love and support during this very difficult time for us.  We miss him so much and always will but knowing where he is and how he is LIVING now brings peace to our hearts.  He will forever be remembered and forever be loved and my hope now is that with his testimony, he can bring that love and peace to many more people!

Also, Jeff's Aunt Kelli looked up the meaning to his name...
Jeffrey = God's Peace
 

 

Monday, September 9, 2013

One Journey Completed, Another Begun...













Our beloved Jeff entered heaven's gates and into the arms of our Lord last night.  He fought the fight and became victorious.  Even though he is no longer with us and we weep for our loss we have comfort in the fact that he is dancing, singing and talking God's ear off in heaven.  This entire week+ we have been by Jeff's side, we played some of his favorite songs and some of ours.  I would like to share the song that has touched us and impacted us the most:

"Dancing In The Sky" Dani & Lizzy

Jeff has been such an inspiration to so many, he always will be.  He was the best Son, Grandson, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Nephew and Friend we could have ever asked for.  Even in his last good moments with us he was more concerned about how we were, how we felt than he was about himself.  He never complained, never questioned and never became angry about his condition.  He trusted God's plan and that is all that matters. 

When we were camping labor day weekend, Mom had gotten a video monitor to keep an eye on him in the trailer in case he needed help.  On Thursday, August 29 he was lying in the trailer to take a nap.  Through the video monitor we could hear him praying. We found this so inspiring and special we felt we needed to video tape it.  We placed a video camera next to the monitor and what we have on tape will forever change our lives, maybe yours as well.  He was saying "Thank you God" over and over and began talking to God.  He said he was going to sleep for 10 days.  He expressed that in 10 days he would see God.  He counted the days out on his finger and kept expressing that in 10 days he was going to see God.  This was before his trip to the ER that Saturday.  At the time, we honestly didn't think much of it.  We were just so smitten by the amount of love and thanks he gave to God.  Someone who could easily be resentful and angry was so humble and full of love.  A lesson all of us need to take and learn in our everyday lives.  The day Jeff passed, September 8, was exactly 10 days after his prayer.  This is not a coincidence.  God was speaking to Jeff's heart, he knew where and when he was going and he was grateful and excited.  As much as we are grieving for our own loss, we are thankful for his gain.

I am in the process of uploading the video so that Jeff can witness to you as he has us.  We are excited to share Jeff's heartfelt moment.  We are going to miss you so much Jeff, our family and our lives are forever changed.  Until we meet again...

The following is the obituary that will be printed in The Muskegon Chronicle and The Grand Rapids Press:

Mr. Jeffrey J. Rands, age 24, completed his journey when he went to be with his Lord on 09/08/2013 following a 2.5 year battle with brain cancer. Please visit www.jeffsvictoriousjourney.blogspot.com to hear his story. Jeff was born March 9, 1989 to Robert and Patti (Van Spronsen) Rands in Grand Rapids. He was a lifelong resident of W. Michigan. He served with the U.S. Marine Corp. in Iraq. Jeff has continuously brought joy and inspiration to all he has left behind. Jeff is survived by his Mom and Dad; 2 sisters, Kassandra (Justin) Schmidt of Walker and their children Makayla and Dylan; Tonya (Andrew) Ketchum of Muskegon and their future son Colton; grandparents, John and Harriet Van Spronsen of Hudsonville, Ronald Sr. and Dorothy Rands of Jenison; several aunts, uncles, and cousins. THE FUNERAL SERVICE for Jeff will be held at 11:00 AM Thursday, September 12, at The Lee Chapel of Sytsema Funeral Homes, Inc., 6291 S. Harvey St., Norton Shores, 49444, (231) 798-1100, with Pastor Jeremy Wegner officiating. VISITATION at the funeral home will be from 2-4 & 6-8 PM Wednesday, and 1 hour prior to the service on Thursday. You may visit the family’s online guestbook at www.sytsemafh.com Contributions in memory of Jeff may be made to the Poppen Residence of Harbor Hospice.




Friday, September 6, 2013

One Foot In, One Foot Out...

This was sent to Mom from Job, Jeff's awesome nurse in California who became a great friend.
 
INTO HEAVEN'S BRIGHT LIGHT

He lies quiet, restless now and then, has one foot here and one foot within.
That bright light calls to him, “son, come on through”, but one side is touched by the loved ones he knew.
He fights for his life so Honest and Pure, but he has fought a good fight and we know there’s no cure.
Loved ones have told him it’s okay to let go, though their hearts say, he can’t, I lo...
ve him so.
Morning's bright light he will see no longer, but heaven's bright light he will hold onto.
The light grows brighter every moment that goes by, and now he sees angels in his glazed over eyes.
When he makes that first step into heaven so bright, he will feel no more pain as he walks into the light.
He feels the Angels as they take his sweet hands, a feeling of peace that he so demands.
Free from all worry, free from all pain, free from all the things that earth could give him.
From Heaven's Gates he now looks down to see us from above, while wearing his crown.
We miss him a lot, though we know it was right, to just let him go and walk into the light.

I will always remember you Jeff.

Your brother and friend
Job
 
Thank you for those kind words of comfort Job.  You have been amazing and any patient lucky enough to be under your care is truly blessed.
 
Jeff's condition has changed.  This morning we all woke up to him looking the most peaceful he has since he arrived here.  Then his breathing became a little more labored again.  The doctor came to examine him and he said he found pneumonia starting in his left lung.  This explains the congestion sound we hear when he breathes.  He also had a temperature of 108* this afternoon.  The doctor said that could be due to the pneumonia and it could also be his brain controlling the temperature. 
Jeff's breathing has also changed.  This afternoon his breathing fluctuated.  About every 4 minutes he would stop breathing for 30-45 seconds.  The in between time has decreased over the last hours.  He is becoming closer to letting the foot in this world slip into the light.
At this time we are asking for visitation to be limited to immediate family.  Thank you all for your prayers of peace and comfort. 
 





 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Our Hero

Yesterday morning they put Jeff on a continuous drip of his Ativan and morphine to keep him most comfortable. He was waking up more often, probably getting used to the amount of medication he was being given. The constant up and down he was going through was obviously wearing him out. He has been much more comfortable since the drip has been placed. He is not really waking up anymore.
 
 The VA came at 4 o'clock to perform a pinning ceremony.  We notified family to come. It was short and sweet. A uniformed gentleman came into the room, pinned a flagged to his pillow and read a statement thanking him for his service to our country. We are so honored to call Jeff our Marine, our Hero. We then spent some time singing some of Jeff's favorite praise and worship songs to him followed by open prayer. Jeff knew how he was being honored and respected, he would not let go of my hand and would periodically squeeze.
 
We were again blessed with dinner and refreshments. The support and help has been and is continuing to be,what gets us through. We thank you again!  Last night his color was great, even
better than when we were in Kentucky. His breathing was so low and faint that they could only be counted with a stethoscope. This morning at about 5 am he started breathing very hard and fast. They administered more morphine and when that didn't seem to settle him they put an oxygen tube in his nose. His color and temperature are changing so we are here by his side. He will periodically stop breathing for 30-55 seconds at a time. He will soon be at peace with our Lord. He will be running into Jesus' arms, cancer free and joking just like his old self. These visions is what keeps us going. We just want him to be at peace, no more suffering for our handsome marine. Please pray for his peace, for his comfort.
We are also asking that visiting end at 8pm. We love you all so much but need a couple hours of
down time and private family time. Thank you for your continued prayer and support. With that, I will leave you with some of our favorite Jeff memories!










Monday, September 2, 2013

Holiday Hospital Stay

     Last night Grandma Rands, Aunt Debbie, Aunt Kelli and I stayed at the hospital with Mom and Jeff so Dad could feel comfortable about going home for some much needed rest.  The awesome nurses graciously gave my Mom an empty room down the hall with 2 beds.  We insisted Mom get some rest as well, so Kelli and her went to lay down around 11 or so.  We held down the fort until Kelli came in at about 4:30 to relieve me for some rest as well.  I woke up around 8 and let Mom stay asleep to check on things.  Dad was already there and Mom shortly followed.  Jeff started to wake up and we all comforted him, the nurse came in to ask if we needed her to administer his medication but he had settled and was peaceful at that time.  We asked her to wait, in a matter of minutes he was back up and could again not see or hear.  He became very confused and frustrated.  We prompted the nurse to now give him his meds ASAP and the episode lasted a bit longer.  We have come to the conclusion that every 2 hours, almost on the dot, he needs the medication to keep him calm.  Kelli had done some research and it turns out the sedative he is receiving keeps the swelling in his brain down. This allows his vision and hearing to somewhat return.  However, when it wears off he panics from the lack of hearing and sight. 
     The rest of the day went quite well.  He would sometimes wake up in mid-sedation and see and talk to us.  He looked right at Mom and Dad and said there names and smiled.  He also recognized Grandpa and Grandma! 
     I can not stress to you all how well the nurses and staff have taken care of us.  Jeff's brother-in-law, Justin had asked his night nurse if we could bring Jeff's dog Cody in to help comfort him.  That dog means the world to him.  She said she needed to check with someone first and she would let him know.  His morning nurse came in and said "bring him in"!  Justin brought Cody up and set him by Jeff.  Jeff knew right away he was there and woke up.  He smiled so bright it lit the room.  Cody would come up and lick his face.  It was the sweetest thing!  I know we can thank all the prayers for how well our day went today.  As emotional as it was, we have had some great times with Jeff today.  Just being able to hear him say our names and respond to us, many times in life we take these simple things for granted.  Jeff's niece and nephew came to love on him as well and he lit right up again.  No matter how he has felt, he has always been the strongest for the kids in his life.
We are truly thankful for the amount of love and support we have been surrounded by during this time!
     While typing this blog Tonya called me as she was leaving the hospital.  Jeff was doing even better than before!  His favorite thing to drink has been Strawberry Ensures so the nurse was grabbing him one just before I left this evening.  Apparently he drank 1.5 of them and was over the moon about it.  He was looking and responding to everyone in the room and kept telling Mom "thank you" over and over again!  He said with a big smile and a thumb's up that his "belly was full"!  Here's to another great and peaceful day tomorrow!



Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Fork in the Road

This weekend we joined much of our extended family at the Getaway Up North.  This is an annual gathering and Jeff really wanted to go and see everyone.  Bob and Patti's great friends, Ken and Laurel let them borrow their large trailer to stay in so that Jeff could be more comfortable and private when needed.  This truly was a blessing so a huge shout out to them!  The weekend started great.  He was very happy to see everyone and spend time with the family.  His Aunt Kelli had brought him an old Lazy Boy to sit in by the fire.  He looked like he was on his thrown!  The first night was pretty rough for them.  Jeff was confused about his surroundings and would gasp for breath.  He calmed down after a few hours and Dad had prayed with him.  He then went to sleep and so did everyone else for a few hours.  The next day went very well.  He got up late morning, had something to eat and relaxed in the Lazy Boy under the tree.  He took a good nap and woke up suddenly to use the restroom.  Once he had eaten we asked him if he would like to go for a golf cart ride.  He perked right up and agreed.  We snapped this photo just before our venture….
 

 

He really enjoyed our ride, even with crazy driver Aunt Kelli!  He then went back to his thrown around the fire pit.  He was so awesome talking to Dad and us.  He kept asking if we were ok, if we were fine.  He was and always has been more concerned about the ones around them than himself.  He then was telling Aunt Kelli that he was going to close his eyes.  He said “but its ok, I want to so don’t freak out,” still the joker he always had been.  He then went to bed for another rough night.  He was up most of the night again.  Whether he wanted something to eat or had to use the restroom or just talk, they didn’t get much sleep that night either.  They finally got some rest in the early morning so they didn’t get up and out until late morning.  When they had gotten something to eat they decided to get Jeff up because they wanted to keep him up more on Saturday to get his days and nights back on the right track.  When we went in to get him out of bed he was very confused and hardly responsive.  His cousin Jimmy was able to carry him into Grandpa and Grandma’s trailer to eat and take his pills.  This is when we found out that his hearing and eyesight were completely gone.  He was quite confused when we were trying to feed him, give him his pills and something to drink.  He couldn’t hear us when we would tell him what we were doing, he spit everything out.  He then fell asleep on the inside Lazy Boy and throughout the day he would wake up and vomit. 

We decided to call his doctor to see if/what we could do.  She instructed us to take him straight to the ER.  We loaded him up and were on our way, his doctor called the ER docs ahead of time so that they were prepared for his situation.  They were able to get an IV in him and administer some pain medication to make him more comfortable.  He rested very well when they kicked in.  At this time we are keeping him as comfortable as we can until he is moved into the Hospice facility.  Our goal was to have him comfortable to get him home; this is what he really wanted.  Bringing him to the facility is the best choice for him right now because he can wake up very confused and he is REALLY strong!  We are asking for prayers for his continued comfort.  He is being very well taken care of and we just want him to be at peace and not worry.  He is such an amazing and strong man!  Thank you for your continued prayers for comfort and your support!

He is at Mercy Health in Muskegon.  At this time we are asking that visiting times be limited to 1 hour.  We have noticed that too many people and commotion seems to agitate him quite a bit more.  There are times when we really think he can see/hear us and we just don’t want anything to upset him.  Again, thank you all so very much, he needs the prayers for peace now more than ever.

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