stay strong, dustan

I’ve found myself in a not-so-fun game of tug of war the past few weeks … except I am the the little ribbon in the middle and at one end, the Lord is pulling me towards His grace and undeniable freedom. At the other, the enemy is like, ‘whoa, no you don’t. this girl is mine. she knows she isn’t strong enough to do the hard things.’

Mike and I leave for Guatemala with eight other brothers and sisters very early this coming Saturday morning. As in, less than 48 hours away. As in, shouldn’t I be packed?

I’ve felt so conflicted about this trip. The reality is, I’m less familiar with the group as a whole (but I am getting to know them and love each of them dearly already!) and I’m so, so very nervous about how my heart will respond to the children we’ll encounter.

I tend to want to fix the broken. Like when my phone screen cracked, I called IT immediately and was like, ‘can you puhleassssse fix it?’ See how I do that? In all seriousness though, our group will be blessed with the opportunity to love on children that 1) aren’t familiar with a normal ‘family’ unit and 2) are faced with some severe disabilities.

My thoughts have centered on the fact that I cannot fix any of what they’re dealing with. Even if I tried to steal away some children in my luggage, it wouldn’t be legal and they would for sure be snatched up in customs and there is no way I’ll be able to take the things away that have stricken their sweet little bodies.

But that’s not what I am being called to do. I’ve been asked to just go. And to be a little bit of Jesus to them. I mean, I don’t really think I’m worthy of being some Jesus but I’m typically up for a challenge.

Tonight, though, I had the chance to watch a video montage of humans from all across the country (world) sending well wishes to a young man I love dearly.

Connor and I met Dustan Colyer at our favorite place in all the world Biggby a few years back. He was a barista there. I’d noticed a vehicle a few days prior with a DC Strong logo on the side and had no clue what it was in reference to and that day we’d pulled into Biggby, I saw a motorcycle with a similar sticker. Dustan was handing us our drinks and I figured the bike must be his and asked about it. He told us it was an organization a few of his friends and he had started to support children fighting cancer. He said that he himself had battled and was so glad he could give back. I told him that was an amazing gift and I’d asked him about his battle. He almost chuckled and said he’d actually dealt with cancer five different times in his young life. FIVE. Dustan is a handsome little devil with one of the most fetching smiles (and hair!) and of course, Connor and I fell in love with him in an instant.

For sure, they have great coffee but for a long time, Connor and I would stop in the hopes that Dustan would be there. And then one day, he told us he was leaving. I mean, why would a young man go work for an electronics superstore when he could make Caramel Marvels? It makes no sense.

Since he left, we’ve followed Dustan on Facebook and continued to love him and pray for him from afar. He is an absolute regular in Connor’s prayers. We were blessed to see him last month at an Art Hop event in Kalamazoo. He was just as handsome as he ever was, but he admitted that it’s been tough. His cancer has returned and it’s being a real jerk.

The video immediately brought tears to my eyes not only because of the messages of love from all of these lovely humans but because it’s such a testament to who Dustan is. He is 100% of what DC Strong is all about and his selflessness is a lesson in how to live. Despite the numerous attempts to knock him down, he’s faced cancer head-on and has continued to find ways to love on other people and to meet them where they are. He’s faced the heartbreaking loss of some of his friends and yet, he remains steadfast in his dedication to just loving others. Even Dustan knows he can’t fix it, but he can absolutely find a way to make the journey just a little bit better.

So, Dustan, thank you. Thank you for reminding me right when I needed it about what it looks like to lose yourself. To fight for others in a way that seeks to build spirits and hope in all that is good. We love you and our prayers are unceasing.

And if you’d like to support Dustan and his friends in their amazing endeavor to love on kids battling cancer, visit their website.

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