For starters, we are blown away by everyone's support. Kristi and I wish we were able to personally thank each of you for the way in which you have come alongside of us. One day soon, we hope to have a blog post just about how amazing Andrew's Army has been to our family. We truly feel as though we have an army on our side right now and your efforts help us to feel as though somehow all of this is doable. I love the manner in which God works in and through people, whether you believe in Him or not, that won't stop Him from using you to be a blessing to someone (and right now that someone is us); therefore, we are, at the same time, grateful to all of you and grateful to God for His grace and provision. Thank you!
This week, Andrew began his second chemotherapy drug on Sunday and has been tolerating it rather well. The only side effects we seem to have noticed is him feeling extremely tired and nauseous at night time (it has only resulted in vomiting a couple times), but he has been able to tolerate it rather well. We also feel, particularly since beginning this second chemo drug, there has been a very small improvement on the frequency of him needing pain medication. We have been able to go from five hours to six hours in between each dose of pain medication (two nights ago, he went 10 hours), as well as being able to slightly reduce his dose (at least during the daytime). These might seem small, but we are hoping it is evidence the two medications are doing what they are supposed to be doing and are reducing the size of the tumors and lymph nodes.
One of the hidden blessings of this experience is the growth we get to see in our kids, in both their maturity and their faith. When we were going through all the crazy stuff with Grace 3 years ago, we were able to experience the same thing; however, since the kids are older, their questions and understanding of everything is really amazing. We have realized, especially with Abigail (who is almost 10) that just giving a simple answer to her questions doesn't quite cut it. When we try to give a simple answer, she continues asking more in-depth questions until she feels satisfied that she is truly receiving an authentic and full answer. We also know Abigail, who is a rule follower all the way, and honesty is something we have grilled into the kids ever since they were little as being a non-negotiable; therefore, we realize we have to be honest with her, otherwise she would feel betrayed in the long run if we tried to shelter her from the hard stuff now, only for her to possibly be caught off guard and experience the tough stuff later on. For this reason, we have been honest with Abigail and answered her questions, when she has been ready to ask them, especially as she has inquired about long-term prognosis. By God's grace, Abigail has handled these conversations like a rock star. (considering the depth of the situation). She understands the worst case scenario and there is a possibility that could be just a few years away, but even better than that, she understands and has faith in an awesome God who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond what we ask or think; therefore, she has hope in who God is and what God can do and she doesn't limit Him to what the doctors state as being the prognosis. With that said, it doesn't mean that watching tears stream down her face often, as she shares her heart and fears, isn't one of the toughest things to walk your child through. Her feelings are raw and real and there is nothing we as parents can do to take her pain away, however we continue to point her to the one who can comfort her broken heart, shut up the "what if" monster, and produce something beautiful out of the heartache. We talk and practice often how to implement Philippians 4:8, setting our mind on what is pure, lovely, just, and praiseworthy, when the "what if" monster comes out of nowhere and tackles you.
In regards to the conversations we had with Andrew, that little man blew our socks off two nights ago. I had just put Grace to bed and came out to everyone sitting at the dinner table and Kristi answering Andrew's question about what would happen to Grace if she doesn't have the ability to understand that Jesus died on the cross for her sins. She did a great job of reassuring him that, one, Grace is smart and we truly believe she will be able to grasp that she is a sinner in need of a Savior and, two, even if she somehow was not able to understand, that God is gracious and merciful and He will not condemn her because she is not able to understand. That conversation went on to other questions about Heaven and then Andrew stated (with tears in his eyes), "I should probably stop playing at recess and spend more time talking with _______ about God, just in case I die soon from cancer." Kristi and Andrew both began crying and Kristi scooped him up and told him how proud she was to be his mom, that he was her hero, and all sorts of good stuff. Andrew then went on to ask more questions about Heaven and stated, through tears, that he is a little worried about dying because we won't be in Heaven with him, so how is he supposed to know where to go when he gets there. I am usually pretty solid when I am around Kristi and the kids, but even I couldn't contain the tears. We praise God for Andrew's faith and his willingness to express these thoughts and worries. That was simultaneously a difficult conversation to have and a beautiful conversation to have. This is the new reality of our life. The reality that Andrew's death is potentially imminent, but hopefully distant (praying it's really distant). However, I guess that is the likelihood for everyone, or at least, it is the manner in which we should live our lives. Nobody is promised another day; each day is a blessing from the Lord. In a weird way, we have been give the opportunity to keep that truth on the forefront of our mind each and everyday. It does impact the way we live and think.
In case you aren't on Facebook, here is Andrew as JFK for his Famous Americans play at school this week.
Abigail's 4th grade class had a Writers Tea where each child got to share one of their favorite writings. Abigail chose to read hers about someone important to her, God. One of her precious friends and sisters in Christ chose to write about Abigail as their important person.
Meanwhile, Grace continues to be loved well by her teachers and friends at school. She loves that place and so do we!
***If you haven't got your Andrew's Army shirt and would like one, you can place your order here:
My daddy is modeling the shirt for you ;-)