Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday, February 29, 2007: Family Fun

What a fun and busy day! I was able to spend this morning with the ladies in our small group, this afternoon with my grandparents (Hi Grandpa & Grandma!) and this evening with my brother and sister and their families.

We went to Westshore Mall tonight to see my brother perform with his puppet Jacob. He is always so much fun to watch! For those of you who don't know, my brother is a local children’s author. I'm not biased or anything but he is probably the best author ever! :) His website is If you don't have his books or cd's, I highly recommend them. Yes, this is a shameless plug :)

After that, we went to Holiday Inn with my sister and her family. We pigged out on a three foot party sub from Subway then hung out by the pool while the kids swam.

Eric, Lori, Brian and I are going to Las Vegas this June so we were researching tonight for the best place to stay and what to do and trying to find the best deal. The one thing we for sure want to do is take a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. We're going to fly into Las Vegas and take a day or two trip to see the Grand Canyon. Anyone out there have suggestions on things to do/see in Vegas? We're not gamblers (okay, so maybe a roll of quarters at the slot machine). We're thinking maybe a show somewhere. If you have any suggestions, leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Brian and Nathan are sleeping at the hotel tonight and Ashley and I will be staying there tomorrow night. I won two free nights there last fall and we've finally gotten a chance to do it. We're spending the day there tomorrow with all of us. I'm pretty excited to have a "girls night" tomorrow.

Well, I'm whipped and it's way past my bedtime. Thanks for reading and for all your prayers. It's kind of nice to just update with no crisis, just a fun day.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008: We're Blue

Today's posting title is kind of a play on words...and kind of not. Tonight Kristi and I are going downtown GR to see Blue Man Group perform at the Van Andel. I never heard of these people before but I quickly learned I was in the minority as people often exclaimed "you've never heard of Blue Man Group?!" Geesh, where have I been?! We weren't thrilled about going on a Sunday night but in our company will be a pastor and his I guess that makes it OK. :)

Speaking of "blue", wow, Pastor Frank's message really hit close to home this morning. It was sooo accurate and appropriate I'd like to get a copy of it and post it on the blog. I'll work on that. Being in the middle of a "dark period" right now we were just so able to relate to everything he said. We started crying about 5 minutes into it and cried for pretty much the rest of the service. We normally hang out with our friends after church and are usually the last ones to leave. But today was different. Today we both just wanted to leave. Get home to our safe haven. Call it hiding. Call it what you want.

Kristi has had a few down times over the past few weeks. She struggles with "what's the point?". For instance, one day she was mopping the floor and she thought to herself "why am I wasting my time doing this, I still have cancer". How much longer do we have to endure this? We're not "down in the dumps", we're just tired. Frustrated. Ready to move on. So please pray that our spirits will be lifted high and that we'll have the perseverance to endure the rest of this journey.

I highlighted this passage from Romans in my bible. It's the passage Pastor Frank referenced during his message: "And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tuesday, February 19, 2007: Prayers Needed for Rich

Other than passing around cold germs, our house has been quiet lately. Kristi's chemo is giving her some mild side effects (sore feet and hands) but otherwise has been bearable. Thank you God.

We have been following Rich's care page several times daily lately following his progress. You can quickly get to his care page by clicking on the link on the right hand side of our blog. Please click there now and read tonight's update...he needs our prayers. They have found a pocket of fluid behind his lung. Pray pray pray. We can soooo relate to what Rich and his family are going through. It's painful. We hurt for him. Our hearts go out to Rich and his family.

Please flood Rich and the family with prayers tonight.

Thank you!
Brian & Kristi

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008: Happy Valentines Day!

I have some items of praise and of some concern. On the positive side, I am feeling great and other than being a little more tired than normal, life is good. Yeah - no side effects!

Germs continue to roam throughout our house. I just got back from the doctor with Nathan and both of his ears are infected. With Tylenol he is okay but as soon as it wears off he is in a lot of pain. Emily is getting better and Ashley is still healthy. Brian is healthy also but getting tired. He has been doing extra stuff around the house since I have been going to bed early at night. He is such a trooper.

On a more serious note, Rich has been readmitted to the hospital. He was having shortness of breath and the doctors said he has pneumonia in his lung and a possible leak in the bronchial tube that connects to his artificial lung. He is in ICU because of these serious complications. For some specific prayer requests, please check out his care page - there is a link to the right of our blog. Please keep his entire family in your prayers.

Speaking of prayers, I had an idea while driving home from the doctor's office. I'm sure you've noticed the roads are filled with pot holes! It's quite annoying trying to avoid them and frustrating when you can't. I was thinking rather than getting mad, I should use it as a reminder to pray. Every time you see a pot hole, send up a prayer. Imagine how many prayers will go up! Although I'd recommend keeping your eyes open for these prayers. :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008: Round 12

Well, we had plenty of time today (very slow at the clinic) so I went back and counted what round this was. This is round 12. It was a bit confusing because late last year we were on a goofy schedule...every 4 doses was considered one round. So, round 12 it is.

As I said above, they were very backed up today at the doctor's office and at the chemo clinic. Kristi didn't start getting her chemo until 2:45. It was a day of "hurry up and wait"! But, once the chemo did start it went uneventfully.

When we met with Kristi's oncologist this morning, he said he expected the CA125 level to be close to normal (35). Well, it's 52. We were quite bummed. At least it went down.

From Isaiah 40, versus 28-31: "28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

After 13 months of this we're growing quite tired and weary. We need to be reminded often of His power and His will. We know that He is in control. We are so thankful to have Him looking over us. Please pray that today's news doesn't send us down a slippery slope and that we continue to trust in Him.

Thanks for the prayers.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008: Chemo Round ??

Who knows, we've lost count. Maybe this is round 12, 13, 14?! Whatever the round is Kristi is quite tired and frustrated with the chemo scene. Her mood has turned quite a bit down today. She's been dreading chemo since about Friday. Please hold her up in prayer tonight and tomorrow.

We will also get her CA125 level checked tomorrow. At the last check it was 62. We have no idea what to expect tomorrow, other than if it doesn't drop significantly we will be quite down. We realize that God will rid her of this disease in His own time, but we need prayers to get us through until then. We're growing quite tired and weary of the chemo routine.

Kristi is really enjoying feeling "normal" again. I think that's why she's so down...chemo is just a cruel reminder she still has cancer.

We also have quite a bug running through the house. The kids have all been swapping colds over the past couple of weeks and now Nathan has a fever (102.1) and hurts all over and Emily is coughing and has a runny nose.

REJOICE: Our friend Rich Elling received some great news this past week. The doctor said he only sees one case per year that has a great outcome and Rich was the one for this year!! I believe the words "cancer free" were in there somewhere. What great news. Although we're still waiting for those wonderful words, we are rejoicing with them.

We will update the blog tomorrow night with her CA125 results. Until then, please hold Kristi up in prayer.

Thank you!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

One More Picture

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Pictures From This Weekend

The kids eating breakfast that Grandpa cooked

Emily and Maddie hangin' out while the other kids play in the water park

Kristi and Nathan riding the Toilet Bowl

Wednesday, February 6, 2008: Big Prayers

Where do the days go? We were hoping to get some of the pictures posted from our weekend away but unfortunately Brian had to go to Ohio for work yesterday. He is supposed to be coming home tonight but unless he catches a ride on a sleigh it's not looking too good!

So that would be my first prayer request - safe travel for Brian and the two other men he went with on their way home today.

Nathan has a cold and is miserable. He ran a low fever last night so he is home with me today. We're doing everything we can to help break up his cough and get it out of him.

Ashley is pretty tired. She has such a hard time falling asleep at night. Please pray that she will be willing to talk to us if she needs to and that she can learn how to shut her mind off at night. She is so sensitive and takes everything to heart. Pray that we will be able to teach her how to be empathetic to others and also be able to protect her own heart (something I haven't figured out yet myself!).

Emily has been doing really well. She has her grumpy moments but for the most part is such a sweetheart. This may sound strange but I am going to ask for prayers for potty training. She will be four in April and we still struggle with potty training. She has absolutely no interest.

I spoke with someone yesterday about prayer and she reminded me that we pray to a God that parted the Red Sea. He can do anything! Whether He does or not is His will but if we don't ask, we won't receive. So, I will be passing along some "big" requests. To us, Emily being potty trained would be big!

I am growing so much lately in my spiritual life. I'm learning new things and God is using situations and people to enlighten me and it's all so overwhelming but in a good way. So I would ask that you would pray that I don't become overwhelmed but keep listening and following where I need to go. I feel a purpose developing based on this past year and things are falling into place for that door to open.

Pray for protection for our family from the devil. He is so aware of our situation and the glory that it is bringing to God that he must be trembling.

I know Brian is growing in his spiritual walk as well. Pray that not only will we both grow in our individual relationships with God but that we will also do this together as a couple. Brian recently bought a marital devotional book and we need to make it more of a priority to spend time reading that and talking to each other and praying together. With life being so busy it seems that marriage is the easiest thing to put on the back burner, especially when you feel that it is already secure.

Wow, lots of requests! I feel burdens lifted as I type this knowing how many prayers go up for us! Thank you!!!!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sunday, February 3, 2008: A Weekend Away

What do you get when you put 14 people in a cabin built to accommodate 10 people? A great weekend!! I'm sure most families would say I don't think so and in fact, a few years back I don't know if our family would have survived such close quarters. But, when you're living with cancer and ALS you have an entirely different outlook on everything.

This past weekend we spent two nights at Double JJ Ranch with my family which includes my parents, my brother and sister and their families. Together we had 8 adults and 6 children. It was very cozy! Our family has become much closer because of Eric and my health issues. This weekend brought us even closer than before.

We had a ton of fun at the water park! I think I got more exercise this weekend than I did the entire year of 2007! I pulled muscles I didn't even know I had. We also had a great time at the cabin - laughing so hard we cried. I thought I knew my family well but being in close quarters I was able to learn even more.

My dad took pictures for the Double JJ website and rather than receiving payment for this, he put it towards credit at the ranch which is what paid for our vacation. He is still working to provide for his family - not only his family but their families as well. Thank you Dad! My mom stepped way outside her comfort zone by wearing a bathing suit (I think many of us can relate to that!) so she could spend time with us at the pool. She even went down the slides with us! Go Mom!

I watched my sister-in-law as she was very careful not to throw away anything that can be recycled and brought it back home to recycle. There was also some quiet time after Carlos was asleep and the "big" kids were at the pool that she used to work on her bible study. I could tell it wasn't because she felt obligated to do it but because she wanted to.

I watched Kevin float around the lazy river by himself spinning in circles and having a great time just being a big kid. He and Stephanie took turns helping Carlos in the pool but even when he was on his own, Kevin was either going down the rides with his nephews and nieces or having a blast by himself.

I was able to get a better understanding of what life is like for Lori and Eric as well. Because Eric can't use one arm and the other arm has very limited use, he relies on Lori for a lot of things. I was amazed at their routine and how well they work together. I have always been frustrated when I have to rely on others for help but Eric has a great attitude and I saw very little frustration. He handles it with dignity and takes it all in stride. The only time I saw him get worked up this weekend was while watching the Red Wings. I'll never understand why men yell at the television!

I know there are a lot of families out there that aren't dealing with such life changes that our family is, but really, none of us know what tomorrow brings. I encourage you to look at your family closely. Look past the flaws and see the good. Enjoy your family and enjoy life. They are both gifts and I know I am very thankful for them.

We took tons of pictures - Brian will get them posted tomorrow.