My brother, Nathan, is one of my favorite farmers. Always has been.
I helped him haul in letter-block hay bales in our preschool days. I saddled up beside him on the arms of the couch as we rode over the prairie, checking our herd.
He was born to be a farmer and rancher. The hat, the jeans, the pliers pouch, the dirty boots - they suit him. He's smart, savvy with machinery, gentle with his cattle.
Yesterday was National Ag Day. Nathan should have been in his tractor seat, having a working celebration as he prepared fields and put on fertilizer getting ready for planting season.
Instead, he spent the day in a living hell at Children's Mercy Hospital. His baby girl, 14-month-old Ruthie Jane, was diagnosed with cancer.
What was thought to be a tummy-ache or appendicitis, turned out to be a mass near her bladder. As of right now, it's inoperable, and plans are being made to treat it with chemotherapy.
Four days earlier, Ruthie, and my Britta, were running laps through Grandma's house and giggling as Grandpa gave them a bath.
I've always heard about the horrors of cancer. But until you've been jerked from your tractor seat on a Monday morning and thrown face down in the dirt of God's uncertainty, you don't really get it.
We have more questions than answers about sweet Ruthie Jane. But we have faith, we have each other, and we have you, dear friends, to lean on.
It may be awhile before Nathan gets back in the tractor seat. Yet just like long ago, I, and so many of you, will saddle up beside him and offer our grit, our faith, and our muscle to see Ruthie Jane through this.