Sunday, November 12, 2017

Radical hope

I feel sort of behind on posting, so I'm not sure where to pick up other than saying that as it relates to Andrew's pain it has gotten a little better since we changed some of his pain meds. Unfortunately, his body has become desensitized to opioids a good bit, since he has been on them for so long and at such high doses/frequency.  There were a couple of mornings when Andrew didn't wake up with tummy pain and that was amazing, but then we would see the pain return later in the day.  We are still praying that PRRT will radically disarm his tumors and we will see some pain relief and be able to back off on some of his pain meds.  This is a huge prayer of mine because then we will know that something has finally knocked the cancer back some, but also, I hate that I can hardly remember my boy (how different was his personality, his energy level, etc) before pain meds...  before we heard the words that our boy has cancer.  Will you please pray that his scan on Nov. 27th does not show any disease progression (because if there was there would not be any reason to continue with PRRT), but instead his tumors are stable (unchanged) or a home run would be that we already see some regression (highly unlikely this early on, but we serve a big God, so let's ask Him)?  Lord willing, Andrew will receive his second round of PRRT on Nov. 28th.  We scheduled it on that date, so he wouldn't be radioactive over Thanksgiving and his birthday (that would really stink to not be able to be around your family on those two holidays).

This weekend, Andrew and I had a mommy/son date.  We went to ifly (which was super cool), the LEGO store, Cheesecake Factory, watched a movie in our hotel room, and just laughed a lot!  We had such an amazing time together and I couldn't help but praise the Lord all night that Andrew didn't have any tummy the entire day and night.  It was almost unbelievable because he ALWAYS has tummy pain at night.  Naturally, my mind went to trying to theorize why the lack of pain, hoping it could be a mommy's touch (his cancer impacts the endocrine system, which is tied to our emotions, so maybe he was having so much fun that his pain didn't have a chance)...  then came this morning...  He woke up in agonizing pain that turned our morning plans of playing LEGOs and going to breakfast (his favorite type of food is breakfast food) to laying in bed snuggling, crying, praying, reading Scripture, throwing up, and sleeping.  While that was far from the morning I had envisioned, I can't help but wonder if that too was a part of God's blessings on our date.  You see, that may be the worst pain I've ever seen Andrew in, but I was able to love him through it in a way I wish I was able on any other given day; however, the needs of our two other children, work, etc, make it difficult to stop everything and just focus on him.  As I cried with him, rubbed his back, and encouraged him while he threw up, I couldn't help but ask God if this was His idea of bonding time with my boy.  As he sat hunched over the toilet exhausted from throwing up (and looking like he had just run a marathon), Andrew said "thank you for being the best mommy ever.  I'm so proud to call you my mommy and grateful that I get to be your son.  Nobody could ever take care of me like you do."  Once I got him settled in bed in an attempt to sleep off the pain, he reiterated the same sentiment and concluded with "I'm sorry you have to deal with my tummy pain.  I know when I'm in bad pain I can sort of freak out and maybe be unkind, so thank you for helping me through it so much."  I hate that he apologizes to us for his tummy pain because God knows, it's no fault of his own.  Long story short, the time I spent with my boy this weekend was priceless, both the mountain and the valley!

As we continue to live in the fiery furnace, here is what the Lord has recently convicted me of.  I didn't know this, but I realized I have struggled with the fact that I don't have a sliver of statistical hope to hang on to.  You know, even if we were told that we only have 20% chance Andrew would be cured, at least I could be praying that God will allow us to be a part of that 20%.  Instead, the (earthly) statistics for Andrew's case looks more like this...  it is impossible that he will have NED (no evidence of disease) and even if that was achieved, 100% of the time it comes back.  Therefore, without God's radical intervention and healing there is no way Andrew will be free from cancer or be granted a long life with cancer that is well controlled. Once God convicted me of my desire for some earthly statistical hope to hang on to, I realized He is calling me to a radical hope...  the kind of hope rooted in God and only God.  There is nothing else to hang on to except God and the truth is there isn't anything more powerful and able than God.  Will you please continue to pray for Andrew like he is your own boy.  Pray that God would radically heal him and that his faith would be strengthened (as well as the rest of our family)?  THANK YOU!!!!  #Hopeon #butGod  #Heisable

Thanks to Sunshine Kids, we got free tickets to Disney on Ice.  Going with Grace makes everything magical.  She thinks everything is awesome!

While Andrew and I were on our date and Abby was at a birthday party, this is what Grace and David were up to!

I have to end on a super happy note...  last weekend these precious elves surprised the kids by putting up a Disney themed Christmas tree and leaving tons of gifts under the tree.  We are going to Disney World in January (Abby has a soccer tournament there that we are going to make a family vacation), so this helps us get super excited for Christmas and our upcoming trip!  You can't help but smile when you see this tree and it even has a remote control for the lights!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Scatterbrained Update...

I pray as I type this that our Andrew's Army troops are well and encouraged with God's unfailing love and grace washing over each of you!  Each of you are more deeply loved than you could ever dare to imagine, so I pray that regardless of where you currently find yourself...  standing on a mountain top with breathtaking views having come on the heels of hard work shlepping up that mountain one step of faith at a time OR in a valley where you feel surrounded by the enemy on every side and some how those enemies never seem to tire (they are always well fed, well rested, and always exercising so their muscles are intimidating)?  In case you wonder where we are, we refuse to set-up camp in the valley because despite our extended stay there (like almost 6 years) it is not our home, but instead the classroom that God uses to refine us.  I guess that's why my most recent prayer has been "God what ever you are trying to teach us, please help us be quick learners and give us some reprieve."  We continue to choose to "not be afraid and believe" because we know the character of God who is the author of our life's story.  This does not mean that our life is any easier, instead I have to tell you the past 3 weeks have been brutal and relentless as Andrew's pain continues to be at an all time high, despite increasing the dose of some of his heavy pain meds (although we might be seeing some improvement, Andrew was able to stay at school for a full day two times this week, so that's a huge praise).  To give you an idea as to what type of pain meds he is on, we have to take him to see his oncologist tomorrow just so they can lay eyes on him and document that they've seen him because his oncologist and pain Dr are getting harassed by the FDA because of all the narcotics they write for Andrew (thanks to the opioid crisis in our country).  Just a quick PSA- we ALL struggle with some sort of sin (if we didn't, then we would be Jesus and that would be a whole other issue) and for some that comes in the form of addiction to pain pills.  If you, or someone you know, is battling this addiction, my heart goes out to you because I know you would give anything to get out from under it and had you known it would be this hard when you took that first pill you would have run the other direction... really fast.  The thing about this addiction that is so frustrating is that it not only negatively effects the person with the addiction and their family, but it negatively effects all the people out there who genuinely need these medications due to SEVERE chronic pain.  Andrew can barely get through the day with ALL of the pain meds he's on, so when there is a hold up on refilling his prescription because the pharmacy can't dispense what they have decided is too much at one time or refill it too soon or David and I have to feel like drug dealers anytime we are trying to proactively refill Andrew's pain meds in preparation for making sure the school has enough on hand, we won't run out while out of town, etc it sucks the life out of you (while scaring the day lights out of you at the mere thought of Andrew missing a dose of his pain meds).  I pray that anyone reading this does not take the sharing of my heart as a personal jab or judgement against you, but instead a plea to do what ever you can to help put an end to this opioid crisis.  I don't believe that vision is possible without calling on the Lord, so let's not leave Him out of this important conversation.

I apologize for getting off on a tangent, so to recap...  this has been the hardest 3 weeks of this journey yet (excluding the first 2 weeks after Andrew's diagnosis on Feb. 22nd) because Andrew has never experienced this level of pain and discouragement.  God has called me to reevaluate what I want more... His blessings (healing my boy) or Him (an intimate relationship with Him...  to know Him better).  It all relates back to leaving my boy on the alter (trusting God with his future whether that mean He chooses to heal him on this side of heaven or not) and taking him off when I get scared because I can only truly experience intimacy with God when my hands are open and willing to say "Thy will be done."  The lyrics from one of our favorite songs best sums up where I strive to let my heart and mind rest...  "your world isn't falling apart it's falling into place, stop holding on and just be held."  There is purpose for our suffering, so instead of clinging, we will be held by the One that holds our future.  Will you please continue to pray us through this lesson and this season?

The kids at Campbell Elementary raised a ton of money for TOKC (Triumph Over Kid Cancer) in honor of Andrew during Pediatric Awareness Month.  The paper dolls in the background are what the kiddos decorated as a symbol of being a part of Andrew's Army.  

This is how Andrew has been watching the Astro's play... reenacting every play!  He is not our sporty kid (which is a blessing in disguise because it would have been ever harder for him to have to give up something he loved because his body couldn't handle it), but the World Series has brought him a whole lot of smiles because its been fun to cheer Altuve (we always root for the little guys ;-) and team on as a family!

I haven't talked about Abby much lately, but she continues to be a sweetheart and pursue excellence at everything she does, whether at school, soccer, taking care of her siblings, etc.  Abby's happy place is on the soccer field and we absolutely love getting to watch her do what she loves.  Her nickname is "goose" because she's my wing girl, always ready to jump in and help where needed and eats up every second of a mommy and Abby date she can get (we try to build this time in weekly).  Will you please pray for her that she would never feel forgotten about and also that she would learn how to extend herself grace when she makes mistakes (we talk a lot about getting "better" not "bitter") or not even make a mistake, but not perform to her fullest potential?  It's hard for me to even imagine how a 10 year old is able to process and navigate this incredibly difficult journey, much less to do it with so much grace, but she does and does it so well (praise be to God and God alone). Thank you for praying for our sweet girl!

Here is Abby expressed in pictures this weekend...

This is the only pic I have of Abby playing soccer this weekend 😂...  in the middle of the pic you can see Abby and the girl she was defending.  Can you tell why we always root for the little guys/girls😉.  She may be tiny, but she is fierce!

 Playing basketball with the big boys at our church's Fall Festival!  This kid only has one speed...  full out fever...  ALWAYS!  These pics were taken before the game got serious.

 Helping Grace play games...

 Helping Grace at Gigi's Playhouse...

Watching David play soccer...

Grace continues to keep us on our toes as always...  On Wednesday at swim lessons she slipped off the step while she was playing, waiting for her turn, and went under water.  The mom of the sweet boy she was taking lessons with had a better view of her than I did and immediately yelled her name, so I ran over, stepped in the pool, and plucked her out.  Grace didn't cough or anything after I pulled her out (although she did cry because naturally she was scared), so we don't think she inhaled any water (proud of her for holding her breath that whole time, as she worked to try to get back on the step), but to say it was mortifying is an understatement.  Grace has developed a cough, so we took her to the ER last night to get a chest x-ray, just to make sure she wasn't developing pneumonia or unhappy lungs from her scary underwater experience.  Praise the Lord everything looked fine.  PRAISE THE LORD for His constant protection and provision for this kid!!!

Fall Festival fun...

Grace loving her time at Gigi's Playhouse!

Last weekend we had our second annual, hugely successful gala for Gigi's Playhouse!  Thank you to all that have supported Gigi's Playhouse, it is truly changing the lives of those with Up's as well as those that serve our kiddos and their families!

Our amazing board!

My hot date...

Some of my favorite people posing for Prom 2017!

Thank you, Andrew's Army, for hanging on through this crazy ride along with us!  Please continue to join us in praying that we will "not be afraid and believe!"  Believe that God can and will find a way to heal our boy!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pop Quiz...

Thank you for once again joining us on the battlefield in prayer this week...  this week has been a rough one, watching Andrew suffer with extreme tummy pain and discouragement.  When the Dr's said that some people experience a lot of pain after PRRT from tumor death, I sort of dismissed the notion because I couldn't imagine Andrew's tummy pain getting any worse than it already was.  I now  know that it is in deed possible for it to be worse.  Every day this week Andrew would suffer from excruciating pain that not even the heaviest doses of pain meds could touch or they didn't even have a chance to touch it because he would throw up from the intensity of the pain, making us wonder if the pain meds even had a chance to enter his system.  He either went to school late or came home early almost every day from school, but then again I still see it as a miracle that he can even go to school most days anyway.  Tonight, Andrew found himself very discouraged because of the relentless pain that he uttered words that breaks a parents heart, saying "sometimes I wonder if it would be better if I wasn't even born because then I wouldn't have to deal with all this pain and you guys wouldn't have to deal with having a kid with cancer."  Wow... talk about conversations that take you out at your knees.  I'm assuming its natural to feel clumsy when it comes to how to handle such heavy conversations and to be petrified of not handling it well, but the good news is that despite the common saying "there is no manual on how to raise kids," there is a manual on how to talk to your kids about their own mortality, God's character, the schemes of the enemy, our identity, what it looks like to set our minds on things above, where our hope comes from, etc.  The Bible keeps us from feeling like we have to manufacture a good response, we can point the kids to what God says about stuff, the hard part comes when it's time walk out that faith/truth with them (put it into action).  For instance, Andrew also expressed that he feels like God has been quiet or feels far away lately.  I have certainly felt that way before, but not at 8 years old (maybe it's because I didn't even know the Lord at his age, but even when I did come to know the Lord, I can't remember a time when I felt like He was quiet until my adult life, when things got real).  We talked about what the teacher does when the children are taking a test...  she's quiet, so as God is allowing him to walk through this pop quiz, He may seem quiet letting him work through the test.  The test being the battle of believing your feelings (that God is far away and this suffering is too much) or your faith (what he knows is true, but can't feel or see it at the moment).  I feel like this is such a mature pop quiz, one that is meant for a grad school student and my boy is only in 3rd grade.  Clearly, God knowing all things, especially Andrew's heart and spiritual maturity, believes He is ready for such a tough pop quiz, but we would appreciate your prayers as Andrew continues to endure tummy pain (however, it IS better the past two days than it was all week.  Andrew has had terrible pain at night, but for the most part it has been minimal during the day and he hasn't thrown up in two days...  PRAISE THE LORD!) and draw near to the Lord, trusting that He is near to the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit and that His plans are not to harm him, but for a hope and a future.  

Andrew and Abigail often times ask me the exact same questions I have for God during my quiet time with Him, so as I share with them what God is teaching me and what we know to be true from Scripture, we get to model what it looks like to trust and hope in the Lord with an expectant hope, not a desperate hope.  You see, I'm realizing my hope in the Lord has been desperate and full of fear at times... fears that He can, but He probably won't, etc.  However, over the course of the past couple of months, the Lord has challenged me to rewrite my definition of hope... so here is where He has called me to camp out, Mark 5:36 (and, of course, it was one of the verses our pastor discussed at church today...  have I mentioned how much I love our church?)

"Don't be afraid. Just believe."

I am choosing to believe (with expectant anticipation) that God will heal Andrew in whatever way and time He knows is best, so I'm going to stop questioning the how, when, and what if He doesn't, until God says otherwise!  

Random pic of the 3 musketeers yesterday 

My Bible study girls and their momma's served at a nursing home today calling bingo.  It was such a simple act of service, but one that I'm certain mattered to the residents, especially to Leon.  All of the residents were in wheel chairs, but Leon was in a wheelchair because he was missing a leg, paralyzed on one side of his body from what I'm guessing was a stroke because his speech is very labored.  I knew there was something special about Leon, but it wasn't until we were about to leave and I crouched down to look Leon in the eyes and tell him how much I enjoyed getting to know him that I felt the Lord insist that I share the gospel with him (not because he didn't know the Lord, but more because he needed the reminder of how much God loved him).  As I reminded him how much God loved him, he teared up.  When I asked him how I could pray for him, he asked for prayers that he would pray more.  I asked him if he would pray for me.  I told him about Andrew and tears began to stream down his face and he was shaking his head as if to say that he couldn't stand the thought.  I told him about Andrew because I wanted Leon to know that Abigail and I knew a little something about suffering.  Together we recounted what Scripture says about God, I would quote Scripture and then he would quote Scripture (somehow, this conversation was so easy despite the fact that I could hardly understand the few words that Leon was able to get out which can only be explained by God's grace).  Abigail and I prayed over him as he wept (and I joined him of course) and when we were done, I saw Leon smile with a smile that melted my heart and I looked behind me to see my precious Bible study girls praying with us.  All I can say is that it was an encounter that I pray blessed Leon, but I think may have been more for me than him.  My time with Leon was a great reminder of 2 Corinthians 1:3-6 and served as pre-game for the conversation I would have with Andrew a few hours later. God is SO good!

Someone took a picture of our time with Leon

Thanks for sticking with me through this long post.  Many of you have asked questions as to how things are going, so I wanted to be honest about where we are :-)

Please continue to pray for Andrew like he is your own!  THANK YOU!!! (((hugs)))

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Stupid Tummy Pain

We could use prayer for Andrew’s pain... his pain is at an all time high this week. The pain is so bad that he throws up from it. Could this be what the Dr’s mentioned... increased pain from the tumors dying?!?! We can only hope and pray that’s the case! Please join us in praying his pain is a result of PRRT working, it passes quickly, and for peace in the process. This is just a glimps of what cancer looks like first thing in the morning and at night (or even the middle of the night)...

I’ve given up trying to make A+B=C because A+B=but God in our crazy world (I guess I’m a slow learner, since we tend to learn this lesson repeatedly in intense ways). God has been very clear this week as to what He is calling me to do; I need to trust God enough to lay my boy on the alter (just like Abraham was called to sacrifice Isaac) AND LEAVE HIM THERE!  I feel like I’ve surrendered Andrew to the Lord repeatedly, but somehow in my fear and desire to care for my boy and make sense of this scary mess, I’ve realized I keep taking him back. Andrew (Grace and Abby) are His, so I’m choosing to surrender him and my will to our good, good Father who is worthy of our hope, trust, and praise. Releasing the white knuckle grip I have on Andrew is mortifying, but full of freedom as I watch the color return to my hands and the calm that stills my heart.

Your prayers are our life line, please keep them coming! We 💚you! 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

We Made It...

We made it through our first round of PRRT and the 6 day quarantine!  Quick recap...  this is a treatment, not yet FDA approved, called Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT) that is by far the best treatment available for Neuroendocrine Tumor cancer to date (assuming you have the necessary receptors, which praise the Lord Andrew does).  Texas has a law called The Right to Try Law, which allows patients to try therapies not yet approved by FDA if they have failed other therapies (which Andrew has, since his surgical procedure proved he is inoperable, he failed chemo therapy treatment, and we didn't see a robust response from the other treatment he tried... it may have needed more time to have any impact, but after much prayer we didn't feel like we had that time), as long as you can afford to pay cash for the treatments.  There are other locations across the country that have a study/protocol that patients can enroll in to get PRRT treatment, but to date there are not any study sites that can enroll a child (we also called some international sites that offer PRRT and they too said they would not be able to treat a child), therefore, Excel Diagnostics is literally our only hope for Andrew to receive this treatment.  We feel beyond blessed and grateful that they agreed to treat Andrew because they had to get special approval on a compassionate use basis (meaning there aren't any other options, so it's in some ways a last ditch effort), the facility is only 30 minutes from our home, and our one in a trillion community/friends have raised the exact funds needed to pay for this expensive treatment (they raised the exact amount needed without ever knowing what would be needed because we didn't even know until recently exactly how much we would have to come up with up front...  only God could have orchestrated these details!!!).

After Andrew's PRRT treatment, David and Andrew went to his parents house in The Woodlands to stay for 6 days, since he could not be around Grace or Abby.  We were told, and assumed, Andrew would be extremely tired after treatment and sleep most of the time, so we bought and brought all of Andrew's favorite movies, assuming that's what he would be doing most of the time...  not so much, while he WAS very tired and did enjoy watching movies, he was just as interested in playing with toys, his Nintendo Switch, etc.  He also struggled more with not being able to be touched more than we had anticipated either :-(.  However, in typical Andrew fashion he made sure that when David would try to get too close or snuggle him, he would insist that he move back or don't touch him because he was more concerned about his daddy's safety than his own need for touch or closeness.  Also, in typical God-knows-our-needs-when-we-don't-and-provides, He used so many Andrew's Army members to provide for what Andrew would need during these 6 days. There was a family of bears (all different sizes), to represent each member of our family for Andrew to snuggle with when he couldn't touch anyone (he would sleep on his momma bear that had my worn and loved shirt on it), legos, books, video messages, and even a gift bag for him to open each day that was full of all his favorite things (these gifts were so spot on and better than anything I could have thought of), and an encouraging note for each day, etc.  For everyone that blessed Andrew with gifts and cards during these 6 days...  THANK YOU for filling the gap that our brains were to fried to even know existed!!!  You all made a crazy hard situation manageable and taught us how to better prepare for the next 3 rounds of PRRT and quarantine.

Laying on momma bear and snuggling Abby bear since he wasn't able to snuggle us in real life...

Real life snuggles in the flesh!

I wish I could explain what this week was like on this momma's heart, but I wouldn't even know where to begin, except to say that God has stripped down and refined my heart in many ways through this process.  Here are a couple lessons He continues to remind me:

1)  I so badly want A+B=C and it never does in my life!  You see, the Dr's have told us and we have heard from other patients (adults) who have received PRRT that patients can experience intense pain after treatment because the tumors are dying and it's painful.  Immediately upon hearing this, all I could think was "Andrew's pain is already SO crazy high, how in the world could it be any worse, so how would we know if he is having this type of response to the treatment...  because I would love an indicator that the tumors are dying?!" Well, for the the first 5 days or so after treatment Andrew's pain actually seemed to be a lot better (he was still on a boat load of pain meds, but he wasn't complaining about break through pain nearly as much, etc); however, it seemed like since being home the marked improvement in pain was dwindling and it was starting to look more like his normal pain.  I had myself convinced and hopeful that maybe Andrew's sign that the treatment is working is actually an improvement in pain (since his pain was so bad at baseline), so when I see his pain creep up I find myself getting discouraged and allowing doubt to get me down.  As I submit my doubt and fear to the Lord, I'm reminded that a life where A+B=C doesn't require any faith and I shouldn't be surprised when things don't make sense to me because scripture says "My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the Lord.  And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine."  All that to say, I'm hanging onto the verse in Psalm 112:7 "They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord."

Another hug from God on Monday at Abby's soccer practice!

2)  When you are tempted to doubt or fear (especially at night when everyone else is sleeping) the best remedy for me is to have worship music playing around the clock because somehow it is virtually impossible to worship and worry at the same time.

3)  The kids Bible memory verse for this week (we memorize and discuss a new bible verse each week on our way to school in the mornings) happened to be Romans 12:15 "Rejoice with those that rejoice and weep with those that weep."  I was again reminded as to how well y'all live out this verse, in addition to Galatians 6:2, "Bear one another's burden's, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Living out these one another commands in the Bible require you to get close enough to people that you are willing join them in messy circumstances.  Our life is so messy and we often times feel clumsy as we navigate through it, but y'all are unwavering...  willing to do that one thing (or I should say many things) that is on your heart to minister to us and it's always a blessing in ways we could not have imagined.  I would like to think I would be the kind of friend and support that y'all are (constantly willing to inconvenience yourself to serve us in various ways, even if you aren't sure that it's the "right" thing... you do it anyway), but I can't say that I would do it anywhere near as good as you.  Thank you for leaning into our mess and teaching me what it means to live out these scripture verses.  

Andrew's precious PE teachers posted this pic on Andrew's first day back at school with the sweetest caption.  It made my heart smile and my eyes fill with tears to know that others are joining us in the excitement of being reunited with this sweet and crazy brave boy!

4)  I know many of your stories and I have to say that it is truly my honor to pray you through the journey God has you on.  It is a gift to know how to specifically be praying for others because it draws me closer to the throne and helps us keep our eyes off of ourselves and the fiery furnace we live in.  Please don't ever hesitate to text, call, or message me with a prayer request because your request and needs matter to me and even more important, they matter to God.

Andrew's scan, where we will find out of PRRT is doing it's job, will be on Nov. 27th.  As long as the scan shows that his disease is either stable or shrunken (verses progressed), we will continue with round two scheduled for Nov. 28th (we decided to wait until after Thanksgiving and his birthday on the 26th, in an effort to make sure he isn't radioactive and therefore quarantined during these holidays).  Will you please pray his scan reveals more shrinkage than the Dr's have ever seen or could fathom because we serve a God that is able!  THANK YOU!!!

#butGod  #hopeon  #He is able  #fightlikeaRoss

Saturday, September 30, 2017

He Can Make a Way...

This is David- Leading up to Friday, the kids have handled the anticipation of separation rather well, until the night before treatment at least.  Abigail and Andrew shed many tears with the thought of being away from each other and snuggled quite a bit on the floor of our room (where they slept the last few nights).  While there were tears, we did our best to instill in our kids the mindset of viewing all of this as an adventure and a battle.  Our hope is to build in them an attitude of not feeling discouraged or defeated before even beginning their treatment, but to go into it with an excitement and anticipation, knowing it is temporary and will pass, so while on the journey to enjoy its nuances.  Hopefully, this week goes well, they are able to see God's presence in the midst of everything, enjoy the differences outside of their normal routine, and realize it was kind of fun (especially on this first one, since this will leave an impression in their minds with which they will interpret all future treatments).
Getting in some last minute snuggles...

This is Kristi-  On Wednesday there was a time of prayer for Andrew before school.  Seeing 100+ people show up to pray for and support our boy (and our family) was an incredible reminder that Andrew's Army is strong and in full effect as we pray to the One who is the author of healing, hope, and comfort!

Wouldn't be complete without donuts with green icing!  Thank you Lauren B!!!

Check out these paper dolls that many of the Campbell Elementary students colored as their representation of being a member of Andrew's Army and in support of Pediatric Cancer Awareness month, donated money to our favorite foundation, Triumph Over Kid Cancer!

This cutie also participate in the morning of prayer before heading off to her school!

Andrew and his precious teacher!  LOVE HER!

The day prior, I had been asking the Lord to show me His hand in the details because I was getting weary (just mentally and physically exhausted) and the "what if" monster was getting loud.  Wednesday prayer meeting was just the reminder I needed and then God gave us one of those hugs that served as his own personal signature written across the sky.

This rainbow appeared out of no where...  there wasn't a drop or rain cloud in the sky!  As we began praying, a second rainbow appeared!  These rainbows served as a powerful reminder that God can make a way where there appears to be no way.  There are so many stories in the bible that remind us of this truth, consider how he delivered Daniel from the lion's den, allowed David to defeat Goliath with just a sling shot and a stone, parted the Red Sea for the Israelites when they were pressed on every side, opened Sarah's barren womb, fed 5,000 people with just a few loaves and fish, called Abraham to sacrifice Isaac and then provided a ram in his place, and best of all, when Jesus defeated sin and death through the cross!

Here is a pic of that powerful reminder that God doesn't need rain to make a rainbow, nor does He need a roadmap to heal our boy!

Then on Thursday night, Andrew couldn't wait to attend a surprise birthday party for his best, best, best friend who was turning 82 years old, Mr. Alan.  Mr. Alan had surgery last week and has been experiencing some complications that kept him from being able to attend his own surprise party, so we brought the party to him!  We had an amazing time of celebrating a man that God hand picked to befriend Andrew and literally love him like his own.  These two have a relationship that is impossible to explain, you really just have to watch them together to even be able to scratch the surface.  When Andrew heard Mr. Alan was in pain (like he was) he would just weep and beg God to heal him.  Both Alan and Andrew are mighty men of God (just 74 years apart), who know suffering all to intimately.  For those who don't know Mr. Alan's story, he lost his first wife and two of his children to Huntington's disease and now he and Andrew are temporarily "pain buddies" as they minister to one another through their physical pain.  We prayed, cried, and laughed as we celebrated Mr. Alan's birthday and reminded one another of God's goodness and faithfulness.

We got Mr. Alan a new christian book and Andrew picked out a stuffed deer (one of Alan's favorite animals) and matching keychains.  The keychains have a compass (since God is both of their compasses in life) and a tag that says "best friends" on it.

They had a play date the night before (on Wednesday) as a little reward for Andrew enduring 2 long days of pokes and scans.  They built legos...
 And watched a movie...

UPDATE ON ANDREW- His treatment yesterday lasted about 5 hours.  They gave him 4 different types of nausea medication prior to his treatment beginning because the amino acids that they administer to protect his kidneys from the radiation can make you super sick.  They ran the amino acids for 30 minutes before they started the prrt therapy (radiation).  The prrt therapy ran for 30 minutes and then the next 3-4 hours was finishing the amino acids infusion.  With an hour left, Andrew started to feel pretty nauseous, so they paused the infusion for 5-10 minutes and that seemed to take care of it.  PRAISE THE LORD, Andrew didn't throw up then and hasn't thrown up since.  Outside of being pretty wiped out, he feels pretty good.

Our brave boy getting his 1st round of prrt!

My battle gear!  Love my new shirt and zebra belt!

Last night, he and David stayed at my parents house (they live in our neighborhood), since he especially can't be around Grace and Abby.  He was feeling pretty defeated last night as was missing us a lot, but he is handling this journey with much courage and bravery!  Andrew had a scan first thing this morning to make sure the radiation went to all of the tumors and by God's grace that appears to be the case.  David and Andrew are now at my in-laws house in The Woodlands until Wednesday.  They are going there because it makes it harder on all of us knowing Andrew is so close, but we can't be with him.  For some reason, him being in The Woodlands is far enough away where we can't just pop over to see him, but not too far to where he feels inaccessible.  Also, my in-laws have the perfect accommodations for this leg of the journey.  Andrew sent this text this morning, so it gives you some insight as to his heart.

While he misses us a bunch (and we miss him A BUNCH too), we continue to praise the Lord that his spirits are still good.

PRAYER REQUESTS-  At the consultation with the team of dr's administering prrt to Andrew (more about how amazing they have been in a minute) they shared that based on the scans they did prior to prrt his tumors (especially the lymph nodes) are taking up a good bit of glucose (what the cancer needs to feed itself) meaning they are probably more aggressive than we had originally thought or it's possible they have become more aggressive.  This was sort of scary to hear, but we are praying (please join us in praying) that every cancer cell would gobble up the radiation and not just get sick, but that they would die and stay dead.  At that same consultation we learned that the cancer has not spread to his lungs or bones which is a GIANT PRAISE.  They did see some spots on his lungs that look like they are recovering from an infection verses a new met and that correlates with his elevated white cell count.  Please also pray that we would all continue to remain in good spirits as we continue to choose joy despite missing each other terribly.  Please cover us in prayer of the next week!

***The dr's and nurses at Excel Diagnostics have been absolutely amazing on so many levels, starting with the mere fact they agreed to treat Andrew because they had to get special approval/compassionate use to do so.  Andrew had to get an IV placed for 4 days of scans and treatment, so the nurse that worked most closely with him was so proud of him for being so brave that she got him a Target gift card and told him to buy himself a Harry Potter toy (since she knows he loves Harry Potter).  After she had to stick him twice to try to get the IV placed on the second day, he was crying from being discouraged and it hurt, so she bent down in front of him and affirmed him for being so brave, gave him a long hug and told him she loved him.  It was so sweet, it made me cry too!  The dr's have been there to serve us on every level possible from answering my million questions, taking phenomenal care of Andrew, and above all... demonstrating a level of hope that we have soooo needed (a huge answer to prayer)!

Check out these precious dolls some dear friends had made for the kids!

Your faithful prayers have been heard and answered in so many ways, please keep the prayers coming because they matter to God and to us, every single one matters!