Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Celebrate What God Has Done With Us

It has been almost a month since Josh's last chemotherapy treatment.

He had all of the side effects and continues to recover slowly. The most encouraging part is that now he can recover and doesn't face any more treatments. His appetite has been good and he is gaining weight slowly. He is getting his strength back and wants to do more.

His blood counts are recovering slowly, but it will be another week or so before he can be out in crowds.

We are planning a party for him on February 25th to celebrate his birthday (he turns 18 on February 3rd) and his completion of chemo. It will be here in Dalhart at the ROC (the churches recreation building) from 6 - 9 PM. We want to celebrate Josh's birthday along with his cancer being in remission, but more than that we want to celebrate the amazing grace that God has shown us in our lives.

Our lives have been changed along this journey, we will never be the same. God has shown us His faithfulness and grace. We have experienced His mercies in new ways. We know that many of you have also seen God work in your lives and we would love for you to come and celebrate with us what God continues to do.

Friday, January 20, 2012


I woke up at 4 AM to give Josh his IV antibiotic. It took an hour and then I went back to bed for  a little more sleep. 

After waking up and getting ready for work, Ilene reminded me that it had been 6 months since we got the diagnosis of Josh's AML (July 20, 2011). It is not yet an anniversary that we get excited about. Partly because we are still waiting to see what comes next. Partly because we still experience the pain and hurt of what we have been through and may still need to go through.

It was just another busy week in the middle of summer. It was the second week of community prayer meetings for rain, our daughter was away at summer camp, Josh had just gotten back from being in California for the month of June and we were just working our way through a busy summer towards Fall.

I remember that felling like everything in our lives had been turned upside down. The things on our calendars had to be changed, the plans for Josh and Sarah to start college classes had to change, even things that were very important to us had to be given up.

Now, 6 months later, as we look back at what we have been through, we know that we have experienced God's faithfulness and grace. We have known that He was walking through it with us, and yet we have been changed. I don't know what our lives will look like 6 months from now, but they will never be the same as they were 6 months ago.

Something has been taken from us, something that we didn't understand very well has been ripped from our lives. That part of us that believes that today will be like yesterday and things have the potential to get better, has been challenged. If you have lived your life and never been touched by serious illness, death or great loss, you may not know what I am talking about.

There is a perception that life will go on and get better, that some of the things that other people experience won't touch your life. Almost like you are immune to some of those tragedies that others experience. We are no longer naive, we have experienced how quickly life can change. Our lives have been changed.

But we are convinced that when God ids in control and that He has a plan. We are told in Romans 8:28 that:

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 

We have seen Him at work, and He has used our journey to touch peoples lives and it may take a while for us to see all of the good that He is working out, but along the way, I am confident that nothing will separate us from God's love.

Mark the anniversaries in your life. Make note of what God has brought you through. Six months ago today, we were in shock after hearing about Josh's AML. Along the way we have lost much, things that we can never get back, but along the way we have also learned that God can overcome mountains that we can't climb, He can restore broken hearts and heal cancer.  

Our God is an awesome God.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Initially we thought Josh would be released on Monday, but his counts were still bouncing around, and they really wanted to take him off of 2 of the antibiotics gradually. Monday and Tuesday they weened him off of 2 of the 3 antibiotics, gave him 2 units of red blood on Wednesday and discharged him around 9 pm Wednesday night.

It is a tremendous relief to be home. We have no idea what to expect next, other than hope that we are done with extended hospital stays. Josh is still tired and weak, and needs to gain about 30 pounds.

Josh is on an IV antibiotic 3 times a day for a week, and of course his mountain of oral antibiotics, anti-fungals and antivirals (not to mention his heart meds, and potassium). We know that we have finished a part of the journey, and the next stage involves gaining weight and strength along with rebuilding his immune system.

We are just very glad to be home, knowing that we are done his chemotherapy, trusting that he will stay in remission and praying that God restores his heart to full function. Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement and support.

We will continue to give regular updates on his recovery and the next phases of our journey.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Just Another Monday

We have not heard whether Josh will be released today or if they will keep him for a few more days. They mentioned that they may keep him on antibiotics for a couple more days if the infection is still in his system, but we should know more later in the day.

His spirits are good and he has not had a fever in over 48 hours. He is eating pretty good and his blood counts were trending up a little. At this stage his counts sometimes fluctuate up and down, which is what happened yesterday. He got a unit of platelets but his hemoglobin went up so he didn't need red blood.

Yesterday, Josh was restless, tired of being cooped up in the hospital. We know that feeling of wanting a change of pace, wanting to get on to the next step. Wanting to be home and being about the things that usually fill our lives. But we have found that sometimes God allows circumstances in our lives that force us to wait on Him.

Each day is a testimony of Gods grace and faithfulness. His mercies are new every morning. This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. 

If we go about our day like everyone else, they presume that there is nothing different about us. But if we face each day, thankful for the opportunities it brings and thankful to the God who gave it to us, our day, our lives, will have a very different reflection. Rather than reflecting the world around us, our lives will reflect the God who gave us this day. 

Someone in my relational world needs to see something different today. Someone who knows me, needs to see a reflection of something unworldly. They need to see God at work, and if they don't see it in me today, they may not see it at all. It may just end up another Monday if I live like everyone else, but think about how different their world will be, how different their day will be if they see a reflection of John 3:16-17:

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

God chose to shine His light into the world through us. The world lives in darkness with our hope, but His light brings hope.

As you experience this day, let others see that you are rejoicing because of who gave you this day, and what He did to make sure that today you have something to rejoice about.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Head Aches and Fevers

When you have kids, you get used to all the little bugs that come with the territory. If they run a fever or have the sniffles we never made that big of a deal about it.

Now when Josh runs a fever or has a head ache, the doctors are very cautious. Every time he runs a fever they take a blood culture and start antibiotics. When he told the doctor the other day that he continues to have sever headaches, they ordered a CT Scan to make sure he doesn't have something else going on. It was fascinating to see what the inside of my sons head looks like and we were thankful that the results were negative.

With his fever and head aches, they will keep him in the hospital through the weekend to be safe. We are hoping that if  all goes well, we can head home early next week.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Josh Spiked a Fever

We brought Josh in to the hospital on Monday, and by Wednesday it looked like they had a handle on the infection and might let us go home on Thursday. I drove back to Dalhart for a meeting at church and then planned on coming back to Amarillo on Thursday morning to bring Josh hand the family home.

At around 7 pm, Ilene told me that the infection was getting worse and now they were going to have to replace his PIC line and start Josh back on stronger antibiotics. A few hours later, she called to tell us that there had been a miscommunication and that Josh didn't need his PIC line replaced and may still be able to come home Thursday.

Then Thursday morning early, Josh ran another fever so that changed everything again. The doctor came in and told us that they need to put him back on additional antibiotics and they wanted to wait until they get the results back from the new blood cultures before releasing him. At this point we are looking at anywhere from 2-5 days more in the hospital.

As frustrating as it is to be so uncertain about our schedule for the next week, we continue to find comfort in knowing that God has provided for us in the past. We are also thankful that he is done with the 5 rounds of chemo and the next stage is letting his body heal and recover.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Back in the Hospital

Josh ran a fever yesterday afternoon. We brought him in to the hospital and his fever continued to rise. When we got checked in, his blood pressure started dropping as they gave him fluids. They moved him to PICU since they couldn't get his blood pressure to stabilize.

They have him back on the heart medication to regulate his blood pressure. We are waiting to see if he has an infection. We will keep you updated. We know that we have a big God and that He is faithful.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Home Improvement PRojects

Today, Saturday, was one of the first times in many months when we were home and able to do normal chores. We finished a few projects in Sarah's room and then took down the Christmas tree, decorations and lights. It felt good just to do some of those normal things.

Ilene and I stated the day off putting some plans together for 2012. It has been a long time since we have been on a marriage retreat (we used to go every year), and we wanted to try and get our year a little more organize than last years ended up.

Yesterday, Josh's platelet count was really low, so we drove into Amarillo for a transfusion. He has continued to feel pretty good since finishing chemo, but this morning he woke up with an upset stomach and then this afternoon he started feeling crummy.

He is starting to look pale and his lips are losing their color, so we set up blood draw for tomorrow morning. He is not running a fever, but said that he feels wiped out like when the chemo wipes out his blood cell.

Keep us in your prayers, we are praying that we can stay healthy.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

One Came Home One Went Home Yesterday

With great excitement we brought Josh home yesterday after his last round of chemo therapy. There was a sense of peace as we pulled into town and up to the house. We were greeted by a dozen friends and neighbors who welcomed us home. Josh tolerate treatment well, and is without a fever so far. He had a little bit of a head ache last night, but was feeling better today.

We were then filled with great sadness and heartbreak when we heard later in the evening that our deal friend Randy Gwaltney went home to be with the Lord last night. His battle against Lymphoma began in May 2011 and ended surrounded by family and friends. Randy bravely faced the challenges and exemplified God's grace through the entire process. He finished well.

Although our hearts are heavy with the loss of a friend, and we wish we were able to go and comfort his family, we find hope and comfort knowing that Randy went home to be with his Father in Heaven, and was greeted by friends and family that have gone on before him. Keep his family in prayer as they grieve his absence and celebrate his life.

True Fighters With Strength from Above

Monday, January 2, 2012

The End is in Sight

If you have ever climbed or hiked up a mountain, you know the feeling of reaching the point where you can see the summit. The top is in view and you can focus your attention on getting there. All climbers know that reaching the peak isn't the end of the journey, but signifies an accomplishment. The downhill climb lies a head, but the path is more clear.

We can see the peak. We know we have three days of chemo left starting today. And then they journey changes. Although the journey may still have ups and downs, like climbing down from a mountain, we will be headed in the right direction.

With the New Year, we have set our sights on new goals. This year will be a time of building up Josh's health. As care takers, our health has also suffered, so some of our New Year's resolutions are focused of restoring our own health. We have plans to lose weight and exercise more.

Our schedule has been changed so we plan on reorganizing our time so that we can be intentional about what we do. This morning it was nice to get up and sit in our chairs and read. One of my goals for the year is to read through the Bible in 2012. I have a New Living Translation Study Bible that has background commentaries about each book along with character studies.

I also plan on reading at least 6 books this year that will help me personally or professionally. I have started a book by Dave Ramsey, EntreLeadership which describes his development as a leader and the refinement of his leader training programs. 

As we move on to a new year, it would be easier to try to forget 2011. There are painful memories, failures and difficulties that would be easier to leave in the past. But as I reflect on 2011, although most of our memories are painful and tiring, through it all we experienced God's faithfulness. I learned to trust God in a new way. I experienced His faithfulness and presence in the valley of the shadow of death. In early morning hours I saw His hand at work in my life, shaping my character.

Last year we faced some of the biggest challenges that we have ever faced, and in doing so we witnessed God do what we could not. We were blessed as so many of you gathered around us and encouraged us through prayers and words of encouragement. Some of your do not yet have a personal relationship with God and you still encouraged us with kindness and love.

I do not know what tomorrow brings. But I know who holds tomorrow. We have experienced God's grace and faithfulness. Josh is in remission and nearing the end of his treatment. Please keep our dear friends the Gwaltney's in your prayers. This year they have faced many of the same challenges as we have as Randy has fought a battle against cancer. 

Randy's journey has taken a different turn.  The treatments have not slowed the cancer, but his journey has still been full of God's grace and mercy. We have seen courage and resilience in Randy as he had walked his journey and we know that his journey has not been in vain. We have been encouraged by his willingness to face the challenge boldly. 

We are praying that God will do a miracle and do in Randy what the chemo could not. But I can tell you that we have already seen a miracle in Randy's life, because he is a man who has experienced God's grace and blessing. He encountered God and was changed.And his hope is not limited by what this world can offer.

Romans 8
 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

The end of Josh's treatment is in sight, and for that we are thankful. What happens after that is in God's hands and we look forward to it with anticipation. We have a God that turns all things into good. He made a promise to us that we claim and will live by.

Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 

I pray that you all will face this new year with the anticipation that God will reveal Himself to you in a new way. That your relationship with Him will grow and that you will trust Him enough to step out in faith and life with a passion for Him. Because whatever 2012 brings, He will work it all together for good for those of us who love Him.