September 19, 2011

a view from the service

only when you feel ready... the friend who photographed james' service has posted a video on her blog. it is beautiful but brings tears. hard to watch, but so wonderful to watch. oh how thankful we are to have this documented. thank you becca spears for serving our family in this way.

August 22, 2011

the 22nd... its been two months

we have survived the first two months of life without james. it has be very challenging at times, but overall we have done pretty well. abbie is back in school, starting 2nd grade, and has a fantastic teacher. i prayed that the Lord would place her in just the right classroom and she did get the teacher she wanted. i wanted to let her know about what's going on in our lives, so she can be in tune to abbie's needs and she wrote me the sweetest note back. she shared with me that her father died when she was 19, so she is aware of the heartbreak and struggle of losing someone so close. God knew that she would be perfect for abbie, and in this way, she knows even more what abbie is and will be experiencing. we are so grateful for that.
asher and i have been enjoying good time together, shopping and organizing and playing. it is nice to have one-on-one time with him and we laugh a lot! he is such a fun boy.
i have been doing well, adjusting to a good schedule for school, dinnertime and bedtime. getting the kids in bed early leaves me good time at night to work a little, watch some tv and get to bed a decent time. so far, it seems to be working out well for everyone.
i'm looking forward to getting back into some good Bible studies this fall. our community group is studying the book of James, after feeling led in many ways that this is what He wants us to do together. it is going to be good. and i'm joining 'the amazing collection' a wed. morning study at church that goes book by book through the Bible. it takes 3 years to complete and we're starting in Genesis. we do a full old testament book each week!! thank goodness james had bought the Bible on cd, so i can listen to the Word to stay caught up in the 'reading'. everyone who has done it says it is the absolute best study they have done in their lives. i am really excited to get into it.

thank you for continuing to pray for us, as we still need support and strength each day. the hardest times for me seem to be in our bathroom, getting ready, when things are quiet and i can picture him being there with me. it seems to be the most time i have to think, and i helped him so much in the mornings with everything, that it really brings back a lot for me. it is still hard for me to believe that I won't ever see him again, or do any of these things for him, but I get through it and am thankful that he doesn't need help with those things anymore. he is having the best time of his life, in the presence of our Savior and honestly that still makes me jealous. in time, we will share in it with him... until then, i will try to do the best i can with our kids, my personal walk with Christ and in my relationships with the people i love.

let's take the 22nd of each month to really try to focus on loving our families and friends, even when it seems hard, inconvenient, or a burden. i know we all want to do our best in loving others, but sometimes the 'duties' of life just keep that from happening. the phrase 'intentional living' was a deep theme of james' life, and i know we all need to keep being reminded of the importance of living that kind of life. i will do it... will you?

July 7, 2011


i have been so overwhelmed with love and encouragement from all of you. especially the good old fashioned MAIL in the mailbox! thank you for the cards, posts, emails and prayers. we have made the transition back into our home and are experiencing a lot of ups and downs, happiness and sadness throughout everyday. that is exhausting. but overall, we are doing well. it is very hard to actually grasp the fact that James is gone. but he is, and knowing that he is worshiping our Savior in heaven, with a perfect new body makes my heart just smile. as i look at photos of him in the last weeks, it is really obvious that his body was tired of fighting. he lost so much weight, but still looked as cute as ever to me. but he was tired. even these last photos that were taken our last night at home he tried so hard to smile and love on the kids... but you can see the struggle.
i share the following details with you, because i know you are interested. you've been so faithful to pray and journey with us it feels right to keep it going. i'm also going to try to post portions of his 'freedom service' too, so if you were unable to be with us, you can experience the incredible moment that was. to everyone who did come (so many i didn't get to hug) THANK YOU! it was an intense time together and i know it truly honored God as well as the legacy of James' life. i'm sure he would have been embarrassed to hear everyone talking about him, but it was such an awesome time to seeing how one person can really impact so many. he will be greatly missed.

i knew i would have a foggy memory of all that happened in the last hours of my sweet James' life so
i asked my friends, kelly and sarah b., who were with me to write down how things unfolded. this is what happened in our last moments together...

"Tuesday morning
, June 21st, James woke up very tired. He hadn't slept well the night before and didn't have the energy to start the day. Even eating breakfast was exhausting for him, and he never quite caught his breath afterward. As the day progressed, his struggle to breathe worsened. His fatigue was overwhelming. James told Sarah he was tired of fighting and just couldn't do it anymore. He told Sarah, "I think it will be better for everyone if I just go." Sarah began communicating with family and friends their need to come and be present to offer prayer and support. Around 5 p.m., people started arriving at their home.

Everyone was able to have time with James - - to pray with him, to share with him their commitment to care for his family, and to communicate how much he was loved. Abbie's grandparents took her to dinner and started the hard process of communicating to her exactly what was happening. Asher wanted to stay with his daddy. Sarah and James' brother Jason made a couple phone calls to Hospice and St. Joseph's Hospital to learn about some of their options for James' care. It was a clear provision of God that James' pain doctor was the one on-call that night. Dr. Morgan shared what the process would look like if James wanted to come to the hospital and allow his body to concede that his time was coming to an end. Around 10 p.m., Sarah and James were able to have a private conversation with their pastor, Nathan. Family and friends waited downstairs, asking the Lord for direction and wisdom. Nathan joined everyone downstairs and gave Sarah and James time to be together. During that time, he told her he had absolutely no regrets. They talked about the full life they had shared - - travels to Europe and Asia, Disnelyland, Colorado, family trips, and great memories. He looked her in the eyes and said, 'To live is Christ, to die is gain.'

Shortly before midnight, Sarah communicated that they had decided to go to the hospital. An ambulance came to help transport them to St. Joseph's Hospital. Everyone else followed shortly behind. Around 1 a.m. Sarah's parents brought Abbie and Asher up so that James could have time to say a very hard and sad goodbye. James was able to tell them how much he loved them, how sad he was to have to leave them, and how important it was that they follow Jesus all the days of their lives. It was devastating to hear Abbie cry out to her daddy, to tell him how much she didn't want for him to go - - but it was a precious time for their family and God was so present to offer His peace and hope. When the kids went home with their grandparents, James was again surrounded by his family and friends as Dr. Morgan came in to offer him some medications to help him relax before turning down his oxygen levels. People offered James encouragement. He asked to have Psalm 103 read. Songs and hymns were sung in worship and trust to God as we watched him drift into sleep - - songs including Great is Thy Faithfulness, Beauty from Ashes, I Could Sing of Your Love Forever, and All in All.

Dr. Morgan communicated to us that as his body was depleted of a strong, consistent oxygen supply, it would slowly start a process of shutting down. He didn't know how long it would take or how James would respond to the medications he was offered. It was important to James that the end of his time here was peaceful and not physically traumatic. Dr. Morgan committed to him to do everything he could, and he made good on that promise. His care for James was exceptional. God was so good to have him there for such a time as this.

Last good-byes were said and James was given medication to allow him to rest peacefully until he took his final breath. James went to be with the Lord shortly before noon on Wednesday, June 22nd. He was surrounded by his wife, his family, mentors, pastors, and friends who love him dearly. We prayed and thanked God for the gift of James Sorell as we entrusted his spirit to Jesus and sang "It Is Well with My Soul". As his friend Todd prayed shortly after James went home, we are so thankful he is now able to feast and walk and breathe and talk and have a fully restored body as he stands at the throne of grace. He will be dearly missed."

February 13, 2011


i am sorry for the long absence on the family blog. there is so much to update on, that i never feel like i have enough time to do it all.... some day i will.

for now, enjoy some LOVE from our kiddos for valentine's day.
please know how much the love and support we have from all our friends and family is an incredible gift that keeps us going each day.

the random cards and gifts we continue to receive are such a blessing to us.
thank you to those who have reached out to james, with visits and kind words of encouragement.
he is in daily need of that and you are making a difference.
we LOVE you.

and we LOVE these little, silly kiddos.
they love each other and we are so thankful to share life with them.

December 22, 2010

my crazy babies

Asher is a fun little boy with a fun personality.
I already knew that Asher was a crazy little baby
but it looks like Sarah is a little crazy too!

Its time for some RISK

Our last game of monopoly lasted a very long time and we both had a lot of money, however I prevailed in the end with over $30, 000!
I thought it was time to move on to another one of my favorites: RISK, The Lord of the Rings edition. This game is a little more challenging to grasp becuase it requires strategy but she is doing well for a six-years-old.

December 9, 2010

our recent obsession

I'm a gamer. I love playing board games, but until recently the games we played as a family were Hungry Hippos, Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Hi-Ho Cherry-O, Guess Who? and several others. But Abbie is a little older and a lot smarter, so now we can play more complicated games like Battleship, Sorry!, Monopoly, and Dominoes. I am even trying to teach her chess.

Recently, Abbie and I began a game of Monopoly, Star Wars edition. Our one game has turned into a month long Monopoly Marathon. We play a little bit every day until one of us wins and then we start over. Abbie loves to win! She exudes enjoyment from beating her dad. But on the other hand, she hates to lose! There has been a few times when she has had to face the inevitability of losing. When this occurs, occasionally, she protests and begins to cry. And its in this moment I try to teach her the life lesson that sometimes in life things do not go your way and you have to accept it and move on. We all hate to lose, but losing is a part of winning; we can not win if we don't play and its really fun to play. Currently I winning-SORRY ABBIE!

December 1, 2010

thoughts from the valley

Thoughts from the valley by James Sorell 2010

No one remains unscathed by trouble or hardship. We live in the pursuit of happiness; and even though trouble lurks around the corner we are surprised when our pursuit is interrupted by tragedy.

Nine years ago, I was living a life of happiness, completely content. I was pursuing the life I believed God wanted me to live. I was happily married, content in my career, and sleeping soundly every night. When shortly before Easter, I was having what I believed to be a minor outpatient procedure, however when I awoke from the anesthesia, my wife informed me that the doctor had discovered a rare form of cancer involving my salivary gland, as well as the nerve controlling my tongue.

Since that fateful day, we have been on a never ending pursuit to eliminate this cancer from my body. Initially, our best bet to eliminate the cancer was to surgically remove the entire tumor and rebuild my jaw. After that life altering procedure we hoped that the cancer was completely eradicated. However, two years later we discovered the cancer had reoccurred in my head and spread to my lower spine. Due to its rare qualities, traditional chemotherapy was not a viable option, therefore it became clear that our best hope now was to control the cancer using radiation therapy. For several years when problems would arise from the disease we would treat the area with radiation. This method worked for five years but after 7 separate treatments of radiation, I have maxed out radiation in certain areas of my body; and the last 2 years I have used newer, but so far ineffective, forms of chemotherapy drugs, and now I have depleted any reasonable attempt to control the disease. Presently, the disease has again reoccurred in my head, lungs, and lower spine, resulting in a large fracture in my sacrum which is placing pressure on many of the nerve roots branching off of the spinal cord.

This year has been by far the worse year in my journey with cancer. We spent the first half of the year traveling to Houston once a week to participate in a clinical trial which gave me terrible side effects with little results. The second half of this year has been increasingly horrendous, spending sometimes on a daily basis in indescribable neuropathic pain. The pain has been so severe that all I could to in response was moan and weep in agony, crying out to God for relief. Because of the pain in my sacrum I have been unable to sit for 5 months, even for a moment, forced to stand using crutches for more than twelve hours a day.

With the help of a pain pump, I am not in level 10 pain every day,
but my pain is still barely under control and so I continue to stand with crutches. I am losing hope that my current condition will improve. As my disease slowly progresses I fear the pain I will have to endure. Throughout this journey¸ Psalm 23 has continually been on my heart as a reminder that the Lord has been leading us through our perpetual valley, to places of provision and restoration. Lately, my thoughts have been filled with my life nearing its end. And when the nerve pain is at its worst I feel that death would be better by far. Yet in that moment, I am torn and I want to continue to live life with my wife and two children despite the valley we are in.

Lately, when all of life feels out of control and the valley has been so dark, so deep, reeking of death and when my pursuit of happiness is far beyond my reach; it’s ironically the one who personifies happiness who has been pursing me. I formally believed that our dark valleys would eventually end and be followed by a time of refreshment and blessing, but this has not been the case. The valley of the shadow of death in verse 4 is followed by, You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. If I am the recipient of the Lord's overflowing blessing or the guest of honor at his feast, how then can I continue in a time of darkness? But the Lord’s hospitality invites us in for moments of refreshment and even now in our present circumstances we are blessed. The darker the valley, the brighter is the Lord’s overflowing provision! By means of our church family, I am continually reminded of His goodness and lovingkindness pursuing my family all the days of my life. When all hope is gone, my Great Shepherd reaches out and leads us. Right now the valley remains dark, but we feel like guests in the seats of honor with our church family. As I reflect on the past nine years, life has been hard but we thank God for all he continues to do for us and through us.

November 4, 2010

happy birthday wyatt!

today we are celebrating the life of my little nephew, wyatt, who turns 5 today. we miss you dearly and can't wait to see you again when we're with Jesus too. these are the last photos i took of him, at asher's 2nd birthday party. he loved playing with the light sabers with his momma, smiling his huge grin. we miss you, buddy!

September 15, 2010

what we're up to...

this week has been better... james is feeling less pain and able to sleep for larger blocks of time.
he still cannot sit down for very long, so we are hoping that will keep improving, so he can feel a little more normal. he is so tired of being on crutches to walk around all day!

i celebrated my 36th birthday and james thinks it is funny to point out that now i am closer to 40 than to 30... who cares!?? i will always feel like a teenager inside, sometimes still shocked that i am the mother of a first grader. how does that happen? i was so blessed by so many heart felt wishes and blessings from my oldest friends and my newest friends. it was a whole lot of love!

asher is talking up a storm, making full sentences that you can clearly understand. it is so fun to hear him react to things with 'big boy' thoughts. james started reading hop on pop to him and he loves the STOP- you must not hop on pop! it cracks us up to hear him try to read the rhymes.

abbie has been working on her handwriting and making new friends at school... it seems most of the new friends are boys, which isn't surprising. she's always had more boy friends than girls, but i didn't expect the 'change' in how she thinks about them to be so soon. though i know she doesn't really understand everything she is saying, she does understand love and that she wants to 'marry someone who is nice and funny like my dad'. so, in her class assignment she brought home today, i was impressed with her ability to correct the sentence with all the correct symbols. then on the back, they are supposed to write their own sentence using the word of the day. check it out, it is hilarious! [click on the image to see her handwriting!]

translation: i will have a crush on jack & tyler forever.

summer time

summer time
(click on image)


click on image for hawaii pics