Our schedule has been busy between caring for our sweet Asher and family and ministry responsibilities, along with our health care appointments! I can’t believe how the time has flown by! I will attempt to update you on all that we’ve been up to since my last post and what lies ahead, so you can continue to pray specifically. God answers prayers.
Praise the Lord, the rain did hold off for Bennington Daze, so we were able to have our float in the parade and a booth in the park and hand out lots of info about the church and invitations to our VBS, as well as talk to may families at our booth. The following week, we held our VBS in the park, having many of our regulars attend again. We have many in the neighborhood of the park come for VBS, but haven’t attended any other church functions. After many years of investing in these relationships, this year we had many families that were interested in coming to our other church activities and ministries! Pray that they won’t be hindered from coming. Pray for our follow up contact with them as well, that we might continue to show them God’s love and share the Good News of His salvation! The VBS format was wonderfully accepted: the kids loved it, and the parents couldn’t stop talking about what a neat format it was for a VBS! It really was like visiting ancient Athens and hearing about the challenges the early Christians faced while proclaiming Christ to their neighbors!
We are also praising the Lord that I was able to attend VBS each night! I did rest most of the day every day to get my strength up from the chemo effects for the evening, but God supernaturally provided the energy I needed to feel mostly “normal” in the evenings and work the Registration Table and help out as needed, while getting many opportunities to go and talk with parents that were sitting around watching their kids enjoy VBS. It was great to make these wonderful contacts with the kids and their parents! I know this was an answer to all those prayers being said by my awesome prayer warriors!
The week following VBS, Eric had a minor outpatient surgery on Thursday. He found a lump, nearly the size of a softball, on the back of his shoulder that turned out to be a lipoma (a fatty tumor that is non-cancerous). When you’ve been through what we have these past 2 1/2 years and find a lump, your thoughts jump to “Could this be cancer?” We immediately went to the Lord and said, “Ok Lord, what do you have in store for us now?” He did give us His peace, that passes all understanding, that He will take care of us, just as He has through everything so far. But we were definitely relieved when we saw the doctor the next day and he said it was just a lipoma, but a big one that would need to be removed. So Eric got to schedule a surgery with my surgeon and had his lipoma removed and the cyst he’s had on the back of his neck for years removed at the same time. I guess he thought he wasn’t getting enough attention in all that’s been going on lately! 😉 Or maybe God was using the encounters we had with individuals in this situation to draw them to Himself! Pray for fruit from the many good opportunities we had to share Christ with others through this new challenge!
In any case, now the tables were turned and I got to be the one sitting in the waiting room and playing nurse once we got home. He recovered fairly quickly and healed up nicely, but continued to wear out easily from any minor task for the next week or so. It didn’t help that once the constant pain went away, he would move wrong or put too much pressure on the areas and bring back the pain! Maybe he should have called someone else in to preach on Sunday, but the Holy Spirit worked through him to deliver a wonderful message to the congregation on controlling our mouth and thoughts, using God’s mouth guard. What we put into our mind and heart is what will come out in our thoughts and eventually out of our mouths and in our actions. Is that going to be focused on loving God and loving those around you in your life? Maybe we should all evaluate the fruitfulness of what we are putting into our hearts and minds each day!
Eric is getting a much needed respite from preaching in July with many missionaries in the area that will be speaking on Sundays. We are looking forward to a little time off to visit family and friends in Iowa, as well as spending a Sunday away with our dear church body back in Slater, IA! (Eric will be also be enjoying his early birthday present of driving a NASCAR at the Iowa Speedway in Newton on Friday, July 26 around 3pm. Spectators are welcome, so come on out to watch and cheer Eric on if you are free!)
4th of July week we enjoyed the festivities around Omaha! If you are from somewhere where fireworks are illegal other than approved shows, you can’t fully appreciate the feeling of being in a war zone of fireworks until you have been in Omaha the week of the 4th! Fireworks being legal for the few weeks around the 4th here, many neighborhood individuals have fireworks nearly as good as those in the shows you can go to, and it’s just a constant firing from all around you as you drive anywhere after dark. Quite a spectacular celebration of our wonderful country’s founding day!
The weekend took us to my parent’s house for a 4th of July BBQ for a mini-family reunion. We had a great time seeing all of our family and having some of them meet Asher for the first time! The kids enjoyed rides on Grandma’s horse and on Grandpa’s mini-dirt bike, as well as playing together. It was a beautiful day, and we had a very relaxing and fun time with everyone. But we had to end the day with some excitement: a wreck on the dirt bike for Eric and Ethan! Eric was taking him for one last ride when they got going too fast and hit some bumps on the trail and the bike went right out from under them. Eric rolled and got quite a few painful scrapes and scratches on his body, but thankfully didn’t split open any of his still healing incisions from surgery. Ethan flew off landing on his back, and had the mini-dirt bike run over him and scrape up his face pretty good. Amazingly God protected them both! Ethan’s scrapes, while all over his face, were not deep and have healed up quickly, and amazingly did not break anything or hurt him more. It could have been SO much worse, and we are SO thankful for God’s protection over them both! A ride in Grandpa’s ’69 Corvette Convertible before heading home had Ethan smiling again, despite his injuries!
Medical updates: Asher is doing well and still growing quickly eating the donor milk we are receiving! He is up to 10 pounds at 12 weeks of age, nearly doubling his birth weight now! We are also enjoying seeing Asher smile at us in response to hearing our voices! Unbelievably, he will be 3 months old on Wednesday this week, July 17th!
I (Amy) had an extra week off chemo due to the week of the 4th of July, and enjoyed feeling pretty “normal” this entire week! We are hopeful the switch to the 3-week doses of chemo will give me one “bad” week and then 2 fairly good weeks in between treatments. Having chemo every week was really fatiguing me something awful! My white blood cell counts did drop really low after this 3-week dose, requiring 2 shots to boost them back up to normal, but thankfully laying low during that time kept me from getting sick. My hair is also coming out pretty good now, so I’m going to try a short Pixie Haircut to see if some of the new undergrowth can survive the chemo. Look for me sporting a new hairdo soon, whether a short cut or having to shave it all off, we’ll have to wait and see. I did have my 3-week dose of chemo this past Friday and required lots of steroids, so it could be a rough week coming down off those. I am getting a preemptive shot to boost my counts on Monday to see if we can keep my white blood cell counts up this time around. I am catching up on things with all the energy from the steroids, as I only slept for an hour or so on Friday night, and can’t sleep again tonight! Lots of time for praying, reading, listening to sermons and music, catching up on housework, and finally updating my blog!
Also at my appointment on Friday, we decided to go ahead and schedule a PET scan for Monday morning to more clearly see how the cancer is responding to my treatments. With what we can see and feel seemingly shrinking so much, it’s hard to tell what is tumor and what may just be some scar tissue around the lump on the right side. The rash-looking cancerous area in the skin layer on the left side seems to have shrunk by about half the size from 8cm x 20cm to 4cm x 10cm. There is still some residual light irritation along the entire area, but the smaller area is what appears to still be somewhat active. We can hopefully confirm this with the PET scan, which we should get the results from next Friday at my oncology appointment.
Thank you all for your continued prayers and support as our summer continues to fly by with much excitement! (I think our family is ready for a little “unexciting”, restful time!) Hope you are all having a wonderful summer and continue to grow closer to God in whatever situations you are facing. Remember our loving God’s grace is sufficient for whatever He allows in our lives! He’s proven that to us over and over again. He is faithful!