For so many reasons, this Christmas has been one we will never forget... It is a time for us to reflect on HOW much our lives have changed in just a years time. A year ago, we knew Andrew had tummy pain that we were working hard to find a solution to, assuming it was a more common cause for tummy pain in a child (food allergies, acid reflux, IBS, etc). We never dreamed we would hear the "c" word just two months later. Also, in the midst of a new cancer diagnosis, Grace's heart would require another emergent open heart surgery. This year has tested our faith like never before and forced us to answer deep questions and with more than our words (that's the easy part), but with our hearts, minds, and ultimately our daily living. "Is God enough (no matter what happens to us, even if that means losing a child)?" "What do I do with hope when everything around me says there is no hope for my hearts desire to be accomplished (my son to beat cancer)?" "Do I trust God to make a way where there is no way?" We all know how we are suppose to answer these questions, but when you have to live that answer out, it requires a whole other level of faith and dying to our self.
This Christmas God reminded us once again that He has the details figured out before we even know there is a problem. You see, we had to have our shower redone a year and a half ago because there was a leak, which caused mold to grow in the walls. This was an unexpected cost at the time, but we knew it was necessary. Everything looked great until I noticed the drywall along the pony wall near our shower was soft. Eeeek! We had it looked at and repaired, until one day I noticed mold coming through the paint on that same wall. Long story short, we learned the shower wasn't replaced properly and now we had mold worse than when we started. We had to get a new person to redo the shower that had just been replaced (meaning we got to pay for our shower to be fixed twice) and at the same time we found out David's car needed $1,000 worth of repairs. While these unexpected expenditures were frustrating, especially at this time of the year (Christmas), just before these expenditures reared their head, I had a sweet friend from the big kids school ask if I would be ok if she did Christmas for our family (with the help of our absolutely, positively, amazing community.... and even a new community that I didn't even know existed) all because the Lord had put it on her heart. In addition to the amazing Christmas blessing from our friends and community, we were also blessed with some wonderful gifts for the whole family from Candlelighters (an organization providing emotional, physical, and financial support to families of children with cancer). We can't say enough words of thanks to everyone who was willing to give on our behalf! Our family was overwhelmed with everyone's generosity! Only God could have known how desperately we could use these blessings. Still brings me to tears every time I think about it, look at, or use the gifts we were given.
Let's pretend this is our Christmas Card :-). Once again we didn't get Christmas cards out this year, but please know that each Christmas card we received has not gone to waste. We take one family/card and pray for that family for a whole week. Please know if you sent us a card, we are committed to praying over y'all.
We got to spend Christmas Eve with Lu Lu and the kids' Besties (Mrs. Kathy and Mr. Alan). Check out these cool shirts our super talented friend, Jenny James, made for them. In case you can't see it, it has a drawing of "Scar Neck the Encourager," which is Mr. Alan, and "Scar Belly the Brave," which is Andrew.
**Quick bit of information, Kristi had started this blog post right after Christmas and then our life got really busy and it doesn't look like we will have a break anytime soon; therefore, I (David) am taking over and will give you a quick snapshot for the rest of this post.
On December 30th, we had the opportunity to run in the Snowdrop Foundation Ultra 55 Hour Race & Relay. We have run in marathons, half marathons, spartan races, etc, but none of those come anywhere close to how amazing the Snowdrop Ultra 55 hour was for us and our team. Our good friends, who are part owners of some amazing restaurants in Sugar Land (Japaneiro's, Jupiter, Guru Burgers, and Kilo), sponsored us to form two teams, Andrew's Army and Andrew's Army, Jr (which was mostly a kids team). Kristi will be able to better express how amazing this race was, but in my own words I can say that I have never walked away from a half marathon or marathon and thought, "I can't wait to run that race again," however, with the Snowdrop Ultra 55 I actually can't wait to run it again next year. The willingness of so many people to run at all hours of day and night for 55 hours straight, all to support childhood cancer, was inspiring and heartwarming. Thank you to everyone who supported us and ran with us! This is Kristi... David did a great job, but there are SO many amazing moments and details I have to share with y'all later about this race ;-)! It was truly AMAZING, so stay tuned!!!
The whole crew!
Andrew's Army Jr. team (the kids were lucky to have some rockstar adults to help them out)!
Andrew's Army team!
These 3 girls combined put in about 85 miles!
So proud of my running side kick for logging 30 miles in 55 hours!
Our favorite shift of all was running from 2- 3:30 am! Every time we passed Bubba's pictures (he had two, since he had two teams) we would give him a high five!
These awesome running shirts were also created by the amazing Jenny James!
This dude ran 20 miles in the middle of the night on New Years Eve/New Years Day!
So proud of him!!!
These two kicked off the race!
Grace getting to participate a bit too! The crosses in the back of the picture are a representation of the number of children that would lose their life to cancer in the 55 hours we were running.
Later this week, we are headed to Orlando for the 3v3 soccer championships. Abigail and four of her teammates (and great friends) qualified for this tournament over the Summer when they won the regional tournament. While there, the kids are thrilled to also head to Universal and Disney. Andrew has been praying at night for Abigail's team to do well and that he'll remember the reason we are going to Florida and to not be too eager to get to the parks after Abigail's team is done playing their games each day. Good job, buddy! Oh yeah, Grace has woken up every day since Christmas asking if we are going to Disney today.
Then, we get home from Orlando on the 16th and Andrew has scans on the 17th and 18th, followed by his 3rd round of PRRT on the 19th. So far, Andrew's pain has been much better. He is still on tons of pain meds, but he is not having the breakthrough pain he used to have all the time, praise God! Let's pray his pain continues to subside, and even more, that this hopefully means the tumors are shrinking, there is no progression, and we get the green light to move forward with the 3rd round of PRRT!
THANK YOU faithful prayer warriors!!!
#butGod #fightlikeaross #hopeon