Monday, February 27, 2017

Down, but not out!

We had our appointment with Dr. Huh at MD Anderson today and I walked out of the appointment feeling sucker punched all over again because he initially said the tumor on Andrew's pancreas is not resectable (cue the tears); when I asked if a surgeon had made that call already, he said "no, that was his interpretation based on the images."  Then, he talked about about how, based on the available studies in adults (because there isn't any published data in kids and he has never had a patient with Andrew's diagnosis), treatment would be like kicking a can down the road (delaying the inevitable).  However, the more I questioned him and tried to put the pieces together, it was interesting that his demeanor changed some and he spoke in a little bit more of a hopeful manner.  I reminded him that we serve a big God and that we are prepared to fight.  He advised us to move forward with the scan that we already have scheduled at TCH on Wednesday, as that will give us more confirmatory information.  Then, he will have them discuss Andrew's case at a weekly meeting they have regarding tricky cases and we will see him again next Monday or Wednesday and hopefully have a plan for treatment outlined by them.  We plan to keep our appointment with our oncologist on Wednesday at TCH (after the scan) in order to get the results of the scan and see what his thoughts are in terms of treatment, trusting that by then the Lord will make it clear where we should receive treatment.

Perspective for today:
-While this cancer is rare and we haven't found anyone that has had a patient like Andrew, it is just a reminder that God gets to write Andrew's story, not the medical community.  After all, God knows every cell in Andrew's body, so we will cling to our Jehovah Rapha for answers and healing for our (His) boy!  He is able!

-I know that Andrew's Army has been in fervent prayer for us because I felt it and even got to see a picture of an amazing group of women who gathered together this morning to pray for Andrew and our family.  Please, please, please don't stop praying because I know God hears our prayers and He is using your prayers to fuel our efforts to put one foot in front of the other on this journey.

Prayer requests:
-Please pray the scan on Wednesday would reveal that the cancer has not spread to anywhere outside of the lymph nodes, pancreas, and liver.  Please pray, in the mighty name of Jesus, that the scan would reveal the cancer is not nearly as bad as they had originally thought and that God would get all the glory.

-Please pray for clear guidance for the Dr's as they come up with a treatment plan and peace for us as we wait for that plan to be revealed.

-Please pray that the surgeons will have confidence in removing the tumor on his pancreas (it's on the head of the pancreas, which is not ideal and can be tricky/complicated) and lymph nodes, despite what our Dr said today.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

He is in the details!

God's hand has been evident in all the details since we received Andrew's diagnosis on Wednesday!  Here are just a few of the things God has taught me through my wrestling, pleading, surrendering..

-We serve a BIG God!!!

-He has already prepared us for this journey with our daughter Grace (for those of you new to the blog, Grace was born with Down Syndrome and a very broken heart...  we almost lost her twice in her first 15 months of life, she had to be life flighted from Texas to Boston for an emergency surgery for a total of 5 open heart surgeries and she will require more surgeries and interventions, but God was so faithful), having walked us to the edge of ourselves and delivered us once, there is no reason He can't do it again (if that is His will).

-Our village that has morphed into an army (Andrew's Army... I like the sound of that!) are absolutely, positively incredible!  Y'all have known our needs before I even knew our needs.  Every single prayer, sharing of Scripture, change of your Facebook profile picture to Andrew's face, requesting of your friends and family to pray for our boy, text messages/messages of encouragement, gifts to make my children smile, sending someone to clean my house, taking me away for a pedicure, meals, and the list goes on, has literally held us up when breathing and literally putting one foot in front of the other felt impossible.  God has used each of you to hold us up, so please don't let the fact that I haven't responded to your comment, message, or text make you feel like it didn't matter because every single one is so special to me; we have just been so incredibly busy lately (not going to bed until midnight every night and waking early the next morning), I haven't had the time to respond and for that I ask you to please forgive me.  Please don't stop "leaning in" to us, we are in for the fight of our lives and we need each of you in the fox hole with us.

-We are certain that God led us to The Sanctuary Fellowship for such a time as this!  I literally can't even begin to put words together to adequately describe the way they run into the fire when there brothers and sisters in Christ are in crisis.  If you don't have a church home that speaks truth, hope, and love into your life, I pray God would lead you to one and if you live in the Sugar Land area, please, please, please come to our church.  We would love to worship with you!

-As I found myself wrestling with God, anxiously begging Him for what I want and worrying about what our life would look like a day, week, month, year, 5 years, 10 years (you get the picture) from now, God reminded me that His word says "My grace is sufficient for you" in our time of need and that time is right now.  He is giving me the measure of grace I need to get through this moment, not those in the future yet because I'm not there yet, and I can rest and trust He already has those details worked out according to His perfect plan because He is a good God.

-I know I can trust His plan because of who He says He is, but I have seen His hand in all of the details already.  We have an appointment at MD Anderson Cancer Center tomorrow at 11:00.  We will likely transition our care from TCH (Texas Children's) to MD Anderson, not because we are in anyway displeased with TCH, but because Andrew's form of cancer is super rare in kids and more common in adults (although, when I say more common, that really just means it is rare, instead of super rare), so MD Anderson has treated adults with this form of cancer before, increasing their knowledge and resources.  There are so many more layers of blessings that have led us to MD Anderson, but I will save that for another post because it's too special to just briefly mention :-).  Will you please pray that we have a great appointment at 11:00 tomorrow, where we would walk out hopeful and with a clear plan that we can act on sooner than later (we just want to do something for our boy ASAP, I can't stand the thought that we are giving the cancer one more second to spread)?  I always get nervous about meeting with Oncologists because they are so matter of fact that I can walk away feeling defeated, will you please pray against that?

-The fact that Grace is only 4 years old and has no idea what's going on (outside of Bubba having tummy pains, which she likes to pray for often) is such a blessing because she is a great source of comic relief, sweetness, and her typical Gracie spunk!

-tomorrow's appointment with Dr. Huh at 11:00.
-further scans don't show the cancer has spread to the lymph node on the aorta or anywhere else in his body and the surgeons are confident they can remove the tumor on his pancreas and lymph nodes.
-relief from the agonizing tummy pain he is still suffering from :-(
-Andrew had a rough day at school when a few kids found out about him having cancer and said things like "your going to die" or "you are going to lose your hair" or "ewe! you have cancer, get away."  Andrew came home and said he just sat in class trying not to cry.  You can imagine the heart break and fury this mama bear felt, but the school addressed it first thing the next morning and has handled everything exceptionally well, in terms of supporting our family in every way possible and then some.  Will you just pray that God would allow school to be a safe place where he can just feel "normal" and not a kid with cancer?

In other news:
-Abby's basketball team went to the finals and won!  So proud of her and her team, which is made up of a good number of girls that were playing basketball for the first time this season (this was only Abby's second season playing, but she loves it and I love watching it!).  A mom from the team we played caught one of Abby's crazy shots on her camera and came over to show it to me and then sent it to me.  Isn't that so sweet?!?!

-The big kids annual Fun Run was this weekend and I was brought to tears as I watched Andrew run his heart out for the mile race and he beat the majority of his buddies in his grade!  Cancer is not holding that boy down, praise be to God!!!

Headed to the race...

Grace getting ready for the Toddler Dash with one of her besties from school!

Look at that boy (he's in the blue shirt)!!!

Clearly, I'm a terrible photographer, but there is Abby in the orange shirt!  She was flying so it was hard to get a good pic.

Andrew's Army, we love you and couldn't be more humbled by and grateful for every ounce of your love and support!  I will post an update after tomorrows appointment. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

CT Scan Update....

Just talked to Andrew's oncologist, here is what they found on todays CT scan:

-They found the primary source on his pancreas (it's 1.1 cm) and there are multiple lymph nodes that are cancerous in his belly.
-There is an enlarged lymph node on his aorta that we are praying is not cancerous also because that would open a whole other can of worms (it's near his heart, so they would have to operate in two different cavities of his body...  the belly and chest. That would mean it has spread further than we thought, etc)
-There are a ton of lesions on his liver, hence the reason for it being inoperable.

Our HUGE and urgent prayer requests right now:

1)  The surgeons feel comfortable and confident in removing the tumor on his pancreas and the effected lymph nodes.

2)  The lymph node near his aorta is NOT impacted (not cancerous).

3)  Wisdom for the Dr's

4)  God's peace that surpasses comprehension for our family.

Thank you SO much for your prayers, please, please, please keep them coming!


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Broken, but hopeful

All is still well with my soul, I'm just suffering from a broken heart at the moment.  God answered our prayers for wisdom for Andrew's doctors, in fact the pathologist that has been mulling over Andrew's liver biopsy slides, remained dissatisfied with the information she had.  She would lay awake at night trying to think of what else she could test for to get to the bottom of her nagging suspicion that something was there.  She consulted with pathologists at Methodist Hospital and MD Anderson and that's when she found the source of Andrew's illness.  A Neuroendocrine Tumor = cancer!  It is an extremely rare cancer in adults and even more rare in children (there is only a hand full of kids nationwide that have it).  It is a grade 2 (which is a blessing because it is a slow growing cancer) and stage 4 (meaning it's spread to other tissue/organs, etc).  We know that his liver contains too many lesions/tumors to be able to resect (meaning to remove those areas), so the best hope is treatment to shrink or prevent the cancer from spreading.  In the mean time, we need to identify the primary source of the cancer, which they are presuming is in his pancreas.  The good news is that the primary source didn't show up on the initial CT scan or MRI, so we are praying that means the tumor on his pancreas is small and that it hasn't spread anywhere else.  We are praying they are able to resect the tumor on his pancreas (assuming that's where it is, of course) and again that cancer isn't found anywhere else in his body.  At that point, we can focus on his liver (continue on treatment to hopefully shrink the tumors or possibly a liver transplant).  The hard part is that any of the available data on this type of cancer is in adults, so Andrew is literally writing the text book.  While we were taken out at the knees by this information today, we know God is not surprised and He has a plan.  At this point Andrew has another CT scan tomorrow (a more sophisticated version than the last) and then another scan next week.  We will meet with his oncologist on Wednesday of next week to come up with the treatment plan.

Will you please join us in storming the gates of heaven, praying for healing for our boy?  Will you please pray that the additional scans would show best case scenario and the treatment plan would be clear and effective?  Will you please pray for Abby too?  As you can imagine she's hurting in a big way as she is worried about Andrew.

While our hearts are broken our hope is strong!  This song is the song of my heart right now, will you please listen to it?

Thank you for rolling up your sleeves and getting in the trenches with us.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

It Is Well With My Soul...

Those that joined us in fasting and praying today, THANK YOU from the deepest depths of my heart (a part of my heart that I almost didn't know existed) and I pray that you encountered the Lord today like I did.  While I certainly experienced hunger pains throughout the day, the thing that sustained me was each of you.  Each text, Facebook message, and phone call today reminded me that y'all are literally standing in the gap for us as you willingly sacrifice your own comfort, time, and energy on behalf of our sweet boy (and the rest of our family).

You see, three nights ago I was laying in bed talking to the Lord and I asked Him for some sort of sign of reassurance that Andrew would be alright (I was hoping He would show up in some miraculous way), but that "sign" never came...  until Sunday morning when our entire church family prayed over Andrew and our family.  I literally felt lifted up and surrounded in a way that felt like a hedge of protection from the "what if" darts that the enemy likes to sling at me.  A hedge of protection that reminded me that our God has enlisted His army to march with us step by step into this battle with Jesus as our fearless leader.  Then came today...  a day of prayer and fasting.  Every time I went to the Lord in prayer today, I found myself praying for each of you.  I had to remind myself to pray for Andrew every once in a while because each of you were on my heart and mind all day.  I prayed that the Lord would reveal himself to you in a life changing way today and that you would commune with Him in a way that is both rich and raw.  I prayed Numbers 6:24-26 over you "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace." Lastly, I prayed that God would let you know how much your prayers and fasting have ministered to me and my family.

One last blessing that I have to share from today, Abby insisted in participating in today's fast for Andrew, so we told her that we would only allow it if she did a sun up to sun down fast (she actually had to eat before sun down because we told her she couldn't go to soccer practice unless she ate), since she would need to be able to focus at school and have energy if she wanted to go to soccer.  The thought of my 9 year old joyfully making this level of sacrifice and the ministry opportunity it provided as she had to explain to her friends why she wasn't eating lunch (especially her favorite school lunch of chicken and waffles) or snack is hard to wrap my mind around.  I think about where my heart and mind was at 9 years old (without God in my life) and it portrays a VERY different picture.  I'm once again in awe of how powerful our God is in even the youngest of His children and that age isn't a factor when it comes to doing Kingdom business.  As we prepare for tomorrow's appointment with the Oncologist at 9:00 am and the liver specialist at 11:00 am, I feel a sense of peace and reassurance that exceeds what I had hoped for when I prayed that prayer 3 nights ago.  Thank you for letting God use you in our lives today!  We are praying for wisdom and complete healing on this side of heaven for our boy, but no matter what tomorrow holds we will praise Him and trust in His holy name.

With great love, (((hugs))), and gratitude!  

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Back on the Roller Coster...

Well, once again we are fastening our seat belts and saying "weeeee!" as we lose our stomachs during some big drops along our Divinely designed roller coster.  This Divinely designed roller coaster is all to familiar, it's as if we have ridden this same roller coaster 4 years ago!  The common thread is that our Divinely designed roller coaster is navigated by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Therefore, we are clinging to the promise and hope that God is not stumped as to what is going on with Andrew, He is doing a mighty work in and through him/us, He has a perfect plan already outlined, and He will carry us every step of this journey.  We have found that one of the best ways to endure our toughest days is to look outward (find opportunities to love on and encourage others), versus focusing on our current circumstances.  Clearly, the enemy doesn't appreciate that strategy because he has been extra busy, trying to derail us...  from a rock cracking the windshield of my brand new car, a tornado touching down in the parking lot of Grace's school and a nearby neighborhood (kids had to shelter in place at school, etc) which resulted in our fence being knocked down...

...our refrigerator going out, our dog eating 3.5 oz of dark chocolate and A LOT of protein bars, and the one that really brought us to our knees was when Andrew's liver Dr called to tell me the pathologist would like us to follow up with Oncology (specifically the oncologist that specializes in liver cancer) and they (the liver Drs) would like to see us this week too.  They continue to remain stumped as to what's going on with Andrew (the source of the terrible tummy pain, why an 8 year old has gallstones, a gallbladder that isn't functioning right, what exactly the liver lesions are, and why he has calcification in his lymph nodes), so they are trying to put all the pieces together as more information becomes available from from his biopsy to the scan on his gallbladder, etc. Part of the rollercoaster is the wave of emotions from one minute to the next...  it's not cancer, it is cancer and all the what if's associated with the latter.  I think I had an all time low last night as Abby, David, and I snuggled in bed with Andrew as he endured one of his worst tummy pains yet and he began to cry and said "I don't want to have cancer."  I asked him what scares him most about that possibility and he said "I don't know, it's just everyone is scared of cancer... and people can die from cancer."  Trying to help your 8 year old navigate the balance between honoring a genuine fear, while seeing that fear through the eyes of our hope and faith in Christ is a task that broke my heart into a million pieces because of the emotional and spiritual maturity it demands.  Andrew is the sweetest and most faithful little guy I know, so I praise the Lord that without question He has created and prepared Andrew for this journey.

As we are seeking the Lords strength, healing, peace, and wisdom, at the suggestion of one of my dear friends from home (California), a group of us are going to fast on Tuesday.  If you feel led to join us, we would LOVE for you to participate.  Throughout scripture we see examples of people fasting when they were in need of guidance from the Lord, so we plan to fast (not eat all day on and only drink water) on Tuesday in preparation for our Dr appointments on Wednesday.  As we experience hunger on Tuesday, we will meditate on God's word, lift Andrew up in prayer, and draw our strength from our Heavenly Father, the Creator of the universe, the one who heals, the one who is Emmanuel (meaning God is always with us)!

"We fasted and earnestly prayed that our God would take care of us, and he heard our prayer." 
Ezra 8:2

Valentine's Day Party fun!  Post tornado...

Abigail shared with me that she totally understood why we have spent so much one on one time with Andrew lately (Dr's appointments, dinner after swim practice to celebrate making it through despite tummy pain, etc) and didn't want that to change, but she said that she would really love to spend some one on one (date night) time with me too.  When Andrew heard her request, he immediately went into action trying to carve out time for Abby and I to go on a date.  I was planning to go to a Women's Ministry event on Friday night, but an opportunity to take my big girl on a date night (while Andrew was at a birthday party) became the priority.  Abigail and I went to dinner and did a little shopping (which I hate, but can tolerate with this cutie), while David took Grace on a date.  I have never had so much fun with this girl.  She literally talked the entire night (non-stop) and I enjoyed every second of hearing her heart and sharing laughs together.  

Date night with my big girl!

Andrew enjoying a ride with his buddy at his birthday party!

David and Grace's date night.  They sent us videos chronicling their date night that of course included "ICE CREAM TIME!"  Grace's favorite time ;-)

***If you plan to join us on Tuesday's fast, will you please let me know?  It serves as a huge source of encouragement.  Thank you for all of your support (prayerfully, tangibly, with words, and otherwise)!  I will post an update after Wednesday's appointments. (((hugs)))

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Some Answers, but Waiting on the Plan...

Andrew continues to have excruciating tummy pain twice a day that lasts 4-5 hours, unless we give him pain medication.  On Friday, Andrew had a HIDA Scan which is a 2 hour test that tests the function of the gallbladder.  Andrew had to be fasting for the test, so the hardest part was not being able to take pain medication for one of his terrible awful tummy pains (it is literally like labor pains that lasts 4 hours), he was starving (didn't get to eat anything until 1:30 pm that afternoon), the rookie tech had to stick him THREE times trying to place an IV, and he had to lay completely still for 2 hours.  This whole experience with Andrew's health over the past 3-4 weeks has been something that has tested our faith and driven us to our knees, but I haven't seen Andrew's heart as tender as it was last night when he broke down and said "I'm just so sick of my tummy pain!  Why do you think God is allowing me to have it?"  We talked about all the different reason that our limited/earthly brains could come up with, but we both agreed that we know God's character well enough to know that his suffering is not in vain and that God is doing something big in and through him/us through this trial and we can hold on to the hope that God will make this test a testimony.  Andrew said that if him going through this would allow just one person to come to a saving faith in Christ, it would all be worth it.  Tears welled up in his eyes and he said "did you know that Papa (my dad) made me really happy today and it actually helped my tummy feel better?"  I asked him to tell me more about what he was talking about and he shared how much it meant to him that "papa" told him that he has been praying for him, he just got down on Andrew's level, spoke softly to him, and wanted to know how he was doing and told him how proud of him he was.  I told him that I knew exactly what he was talking about because Papa has a way of making me feel like the most special person in the world too, that is one of his biggest gifts.  Andrew then said "I'm just blessed that he is my papa!"  In that moment, I was reminded once again of the simplicity of touching that sweet boy's heart.  His love language is words of affirmation and time spent (whether that is a few purposeful moments or a whole day).  Andrew wanted to call my dad to tell him how much he appreciated him, so we did and they planned a date today to put together legos.  I just wanted to encourage y'all with what the Lord reminded me through this...  it is so much simpler than I make it sometimes, with all of the demands in life fighting for our attention, nothing is more valuable than purposeful time spent investing in those you love (and biblically speaking those that aren't so lovable too:-) and it doesn't have to be anything fancy, just purposeful time.

Sorry, that was a long story to get us to the results of the test... the test showed that his gallbladder is working at 10% when normal is 35%+.  The results at least explain the gallstones, but the doctor isn't certain that is the sole cause of his tummy pain.  His team of doctors plan to discuss the findings early this week and come up with a next step.  In the mean time, we are trying a low fat diet to see if we can take some of the pressure off the gallbladder and I have a suspicion that the low fat diet (that we have only done for less than 24 hours so far) is helping, but boy is that hard when it comes to an 8 year old boy...  but we are willing to try anything for a little relief.

Abigail had an indoor soccer game on Friday night that was a hard fought game, but I am afraid the other team's parents were interested in making it a hard fought game in the parking lot too.... literally.  This was my first experience at a child's sporting event when I heard a parent from the other team say to one of the parents from our team "let's take this outside!"  What?!?!  Fortunately, I was busy chasing Grace around most of the game, so I didn't see her daughter slam Abigail into the wall (the worst of multiple nasty fouls) because I'm not sure my heart and mind would have been in the right place to be able to go over to the mom doing the threatening and graciously remind her that there were a lot of little ears around that didn't need to be exposed to that level of aggression and that at the end of the day we all have the same goal; we want our kids to be safe, have fun, and learn/grow as an individual player and as a team.  It was a crazy night to say the least.  Both the big kids had basketball games this weekend.  Abigail's game was especially exciting because they won by a basket in the last couple seconds of the game.  We also got to watch David play in an indoor soccer game, which was a treat for two reasons.  First, I don't think I've been able to watch one of his games since we were in college and I forgot how much I loved getting to watch him.  Second, it blows my mind how similar David and Abigail play soccer!  They have identical body types, mannerisms, hustle, etc on the soccer field!

Grace has come down with some sort of respiratory infection this weekend and is pretty miserable, so we are praying that it passes quickly and we don't end up in the hospital with her.  We would greatly appreciate your prayers for Andrew and Grace!  Thank you!!!

Grace is crazy blessed to be in the PPCD/Pegasus program at Velasquez Elementary.  It always blows my mind with all the little trinkets and treats she comes home with daily.  This week they studied the letter "D", so here she is in her disco attire from the disco party they had.  

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Update on Andrew and everything in between...

I apologize for those not on Facebook, I have not had a second to update the blog since life took a crazy turn a week and a half ago...  Here is a readers digest version and the most recent update:

Andrew has been having tummy pain for the past 6 months or so.  It started out happening a couple times a week and are now happing twice a day and have SIGNIFICANTLY increased in intensity to the point that Andrew can't sit still and tries to deep breathe through the pain, as if he is having labor pains that last 4-5 hours.  His pediatrician sent us for some lab work, stool sample, and an ultrasound to try to figure out what was going on (after having us try Zantac, keep a food journal, do allergy testing, etc).  We went in for the ultrasound at 7:30 am and I assumed I would have him to school by 8:30 and I would be at work by 9:00.  Well, God had other plans.  I knew when they spent too much time looking at his liver that something wasn't right.  After a long wait and additional pictures, the ultrasound tech came out and said they found something concerning on the ultrasound and that the radiologist wanted us to go to our Pediatrician's office right then to discuss.  David left work and met me at the Pediatrician's office, where our amazing pediatrician shared the results from the ultrasound with us...

These results earned us a ride to the ER in the Medical Center, where they did a CT scan and we were told the Oncologist would come in and give us an official diagnosis and "stage it."  Again, God had other plans, while the Dr's searched for a primary source/tumor where the cancer originated, they didn't find it.  They were stumped as to how Andrew had so many lesions on his liver, calcification on his lymph nodes, and gallstones at his age and some how, some way, his labs looked stone cold normal.  We were told that his case was the mystery in the department.  "Nothing seems to add up or make sense."  We were admitted for a liver biopsy to better understand what were in all the lesions on his liver, in addition to other tests.  The 3 days and 2 nights in the hospital were like a roller coaster of obvious emotions, but one of the most difficult parts of the hospital stay was Abby and Andrew being separated.  All they both wanted was to be together and many tears were shed missing each other and Abby being worried about Andrew.  The second Andrew woke up from his biopsy, the first thing that came out of his mouth is "can I see Abby now?"  They have always been the best of friends, so this particular situation made the prospect of our worst fear (them being separated for good on this side of heaven) too close to home.  After the biopsy, the Dr's said they were crossing cancer out with a pencil, but what we were dealing with was still a giant mystery, as it is very uncommon in children.  Andrew then had an MRI (he laid completely still for an hour and twenty minutes like such a champ), followed by an appointment with the liver specialist.  Our liver Dr is a huge answer to prayer, as she is everything we prayed for.  At this point, Dr's remain stumped, especially as to what is causing his tummy pain.  The diagnosis they are focusing on is congenital hepatic fibrosis, which typically makes children very sick and leads to the need for a liver and/or kidney transplant.  They think that, by God's grace, Andrew's case is isolated to the liver and his liver is not showing signs of injury at this point (it is still working just fine).  Huge praises for that!  The calcification in his lymph nodes (which is often a sign of cancer) is very perplexing, but all they can think of is that may be a result of the bad pneumonia he had a few years back.  The Dr's plan to have a big meeting with a number of different specialists this Wednesday to further discuss Andrew's case and to come up with a plan as to how to monitor Andrew's liver and nodes, since this isn't something they have dealt with, they don't have a protocol as to how to how to manage it long term.  Lastly, they/we are still at a loss as to what is causing these awful tummy pains.  They don't think it is related to his liver issue, but we haven't been able to isolate what is causing it.  We are trying a medication over the weekend that we've been praying will provide a little relief (I've been begging God for just one pain free day), but so far it hasn't touched it :-(.  If we still don't see any improvement by Tuesday, we will try another medication, if that doesn't work then we will do a test on his gallbladder that I think is pretty painful.  That brings us to where we are today...  I have been heart broken watching Andrew suffer with this debilitating tummy pain (watching him wince in pain while trying to play basketball, having to pick him up from a friend's house during a sleep over because his tummy hurt so bad, etc) and holding on with a mighty strong grip to the hope that Andrew would have just one pain free day.  That day has yet to come, but God reminded me in a profound way today (smack dab in the middle of my broken and discouraged heart) that He may not be delivering us from this trial right now, but He is walking closely with us through it.  I've been reminded that like Paul (who wrote 2/3 of the New Testament), who asked God repeatedly to remove the thorn in his side to which God responded "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  It is likely that this is Andrew's thorn and as long as God allows him to endure it, His grace and power will sustain him/us and make this test into a testimony.  Will you please pray for wisdom as to what's causing these terrible tummy pains and for a simple solution?  Please pray that we would keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and not our circumstances.  We have been blessed by the outpouring of love, support, and encouragement during this difficult time for which words can't adequately express our gratitude.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!!

Toughest little guy I know...  takes blood tests and tons of other pokes like such a brave boy!

Andrew's new friend, "Hedwig" the owl that serves as a heating pad.  Such a sweet gift!

Andrew's biopsy time kept getting pushed back, so he was starving from fasting for 24 hours and suffering from one of his worst tummy pains ever when we finally got him to sleep just before Abby arrived at the hospital.  This is Abby snuggling her Bubba while he sleeps and counting down the minutes until she could wake him up!

They are reunited!

An hour and a half long MRI!  Again, he was amazing through it all!

If I had a dollar for every time someone walked into his hospital room and complimented his hair, we would be livin' large!  
God made this guy with an extra measure of courage!

I might be a little bit crazy, but in the thick of all of what I just described, I ran my first marathon with my dear friend and running buddy, Jill.  In what can only be described as in God's strength and for His glory, the first 25 miles weren't bad at all, but that last mile up hill with 18 mph winds at our face was a little brutal, but overall the race was a blast.

Seeing my favorite cheering squad around mile 19!

We did it!!!

Abigail also had a soccer tournament last weekend, where they made it to the finals and lost the final game 2-0.  In her second game she got a crazy hard cleat to the toe that I could hear from the sideline.  We thought it was broken, but praise the Lord it was just badly bruised and she was able to finish the tournament with a taped up toe and pain medicine.

Abigail's injured toe!

Waiting for x-ray.

Carb loading for the marathon the next day with some ding dongs (I forgot how amazing those are) while we wait for the x-ray!

This weekend was also a little busy to say the least, Abigail had an indoor soccer game on Friday night.  On Saturday, Andrew had a basketball game, Abigail had an indoor soccer game, then a basketball game, then another indoor soccer game, and we ended the night at a college basketball game where the kids got to scrimmage on the big court during half time.  Today, we had an amazing time at church, girls bible study, and now we are watching the Super Bowl as a family while snuggling on the couch.

And now... the count down continues until Grace's next ballet and tap class!  She asks every day, multiple times a day, how much longer until dance class!  This smile says it all!