Christmas Letter: 2017

Law_101417-50.jpgNo, we are not going green by putting our letter online in trying to save paper. This happened because one of the kids so kindly stuffed all our Christmas cards in envelopes and decided to sealed them before the letter went in! 🙂 So, we thought we would just post it here for everyone to read.


This year brought far too much to put into a few words but we wanted to share just a couple highlights.

In February, we were able to got on Brennen’s Make-A-Wish cruise as a family. It was a wonderful time to spend as family and to set aside the realities of cancer treatments back home.

This Summer we had the opportunity to visit the life-sized Ark in Williamsburg, Kentucky. It is amazing to see the biblical dimensions brought to life. Answers in Genesis, the creators of the Ark Encounter, have created an amazing place to show and teach about the historical account of the biblical ark.

We had a couple chances to spend time with our extended family. There are a lot of miles that separate us but we love to take advantage of times we have to see them and enjoy making new memories.

Life in our family is usually full of activity. The four boys keep our home filled with youthful energy and busyness. We are thankful for having a big yard and long driveway for the kids to run, ride bikes, and play sports to work off some of that energy.

At Christmas we are reminded of the amazing birth of Jesus Christ, Immanuel (God with us).  He was not just a man, He was truly God come to earth

The question becomes, “Why did Jesus have to come?” It was because of sin breaking the perfect relationship between God and man God humbled Himself and left heaven to come in flesh to live and give His life as a payment for sin.

It is by grace through faith that we accept His gift of forgiveness by repenting (acknowledging and turning away) of our sin and following His lead in our lives.

It is for this cause that we give our lives to serve Him here in Wisconsin and wherever God has us. We pray that this Christmas you would receive the most amazing gift in the world has ever been given: God’s forgiveness.


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Chris & Jenny – We are blessed to have been married 18 years. This year Chris celebrated his 40th birthday when Jenny put on a surprise party. Jenny homeschools the three oldest and finds time to decorate and create some beautiful projects.

Law_101417-32Isabella (13) – This Spring Isabella started her first garden and did an amazing job watering, weeding, and enjoying the huge harvest. She loves learning about gardening and hopes to have some chickens next year.

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Brennen (9) – 
Brennen is willing to play any sport with any person who will join him. Lord willing, he has 3 more months of treatment and then will have to go back once a month for blood labs to ensure the leukemia hasn’t returned.

law_101417-28.jpgEddie (7) – Eddie is “Mr. Giggles.” His laugh is infectious and he genuinely cares about everyone he meets. He is often found striking up conversations with random people and he loves to hear their stories.

law_101417-24.jpgElijah (5) – Elijah marches at the beat of his own drum. Sometimes that is slow. Sometimes it is fast. He often has a serious face on but when he smiles, he lights up the room. There’s not a tractor or truck that he doesn’t’ want to play with.

law_101417-25.jpgHolden (4) – Holden keeps the family laughing with his funny faces and comments. He is always trying to keep up with his big brothers on their bikes or climbing trees.

law_101417-34.jpgAynsLeigh (22 months) – She has her big brothers and sister wrapped around her finger. There’s hardly a moment when one of them isn’t wanting to play with her or carry her around.

 

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3 Years

This morning, as I was driving to Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee with Brennen and Eddie for Brennen’s treatment, I realized that it was three years ago today that we received word of his diagnosis.

I’ll never forget sitting in the room with Dr. Gates as he shared the results of Brennen’s labs. It was clear that his labs had turned for the worse and it would be clear that he had leukemia after another bone marrow biopsy.

We spent the following day with Mariano Friginal in Yosemite. He captured some amazing photos that will forever be some of our family favorites.

A lot has transpired over the past three years. In some ways, a lot has changed. We know more medical terms than we’d prefer to. The little boy that sat on that exam table is not so little any more. We’ve added another member of our family, and, oh, we have moved to Wisconsin. 🙂 In other ways, life has stood still. Much of our family’s life has been focused on making sure Brennen gets the care he needs. I am thankful for how his siblings have been such a support. They have traveled countless miles, sat countless hours in the van waiting, and even had the opportunity to join him in his treatments.

Through it all, we can testify that God has given us the strength to make it through each day. Many of the days have been good but there have been those days in which we have grieved over the physical state of Brennen. I am so grateful for the good health that Brennen has and we pray that he continues to stay cancer free for the rest of his life.

IMG_5978.JPGLord willing, we have 117 more days of treatment, 117 more doses of medications, 4 more weeks of steroids, 3 more regular clinic visits, 1 more spinal tap visit, and 1 surgery to have Brennen’s mediport removed.

Thank you for your prayers and support. Please continue to pray that Brennen stays cancer free and that there will be no long-term side effects of treatment.

 

Thankful For Change

Brennen went back to Children’s Hospital for blood labs to see if his immune system was gaining strength. We are grateful that his ANC (a picture of how strong your immune system is) came back at 400. It’s a great number compared to the 32 he had on Tuesday but we pray that it will continue to rise.

During this phase of treatment the doctors want to see it between 500-1500 (a typical person’s ANC would be somewhere between 4000-6000). He will continue to hold off on taking his daily chemo until his ANC is over 750. We will be taking more labs sometime next week to ensure he is continuing to strengthen.

Thank you for praying for Brennen. Please pray that we continue to see his ANC rise and that he would stay free of any sicknesses that could easily tear down his immune system when it’s so weak.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”             — James 1:2-4

32 . . . Please Pray

32. It has been my favorite number for as long as I can remember. Though today, it’s not a number I wanted to hear.

This morning, Brennen went in for his monthly treatment to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Everything looked good. He’s been active, feeling great, and all his vitals were showing to be normal. He received his monthly dose of vincristine through his medi-port as they drew blood labs and we were done.

As usual, Jeanette, the nurse, called with Brennen’s lab results but this time it was different. She said his ANC was 32. The goal is to have his ANC between 500-1500. Anything below 500 means you pretty much don’t have any immune system. We are stopping two of his oral chemotherapies for a few days to see if his body will rebuild the ANC.

As Jenny and I listened to Jeanette read of his lab results it was hard not to be fearful. Brennen’s ANC has not been this low for at least a year and maybe never during his treatment. Jenny and I have already been a bit emotional as we have been talking bout how it was three years ago this Thursday (10/12) that this journey of A.L.L. began when we took Brennen to the E.R. in San Luis Obispo, CA.

As we ask you to pray for Brennen we are confident that our great God is completely in control. God has never promised that life will be easy. In fact, the Bible teaches us that God works everything, and I mean everything, for His glory and our good. While we may not always know what the “good” is we pray that our faith will be strengthened as He stretches us.

Please also pray for Brennen. With his ANC being so low he is not allowed to be out in public and there were plans of a trip to a trampoline park on Friday. While he’s disappointed at the thought of not being able to go he is trusting that his doctor and us will make the best decision for him.

All of us are like Brennen. We may look okay on the outside but we have an issue on the inside. The Bible says in Romans 3:23 that, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” While we may not see ourselves as sinful, compared to God’s perfection we have all fallen short. We need God to provide a way to help us be made right with Him and He did exactly that when Jesus came to earth to die. Romans 6:23 says, “The wages (consequence) of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” We receive His forgiveness when we confess and turn away from our sin and put our faith in Jesus’ death alone to save us. We pray that God’s truth will cause us all to turn to Him for forgiveness.

Thank you for praying and supporting us on this long journey. We pray that there are just 6 more months of treatment left!

 

Sharing His Own Story

A lot of time has passed since I last gave an update on Brennen. He continues to receive his different medications each day at home and once a month goes in for treatment to Children’s Hospital. We thank God for his continued health. If he does not have a reoccurrence, there are 9 months left until the end of treatment. On one hand it feels like an eternity away, yet at the same time, it doesn’t feel that far away.

On Monday (6/19) Make-A-Wish Wisconsin had their annual golf tournament to raise money to help grant more kids’ wishes. I believe they said they have over 300 kids waiting for their wishes to be granted. We are grateful to Make-A-Wish and how they have blessed Brennen and our family through this battle with Leukemia.

A couple months ago one of the Make-A-Wish employees had asked if Brennen would be willing to share about his Wish Trip to the participants of the golf tournament. He was a bit tentative while preparing but he did an amazing job in front of over 200 people. I cracked up when he said to me, “I’m not scared. But for some reason my knees are shaking.” Afterwards, he received a standing ovation. It was such an encouragement to see the support of everyone who was there.

Thank you to each of you for praying and supporting Brennen and our family.  We never want to presume on God’s mercy but, instead, remain fervently prayerful and dependent upon Him.

In His Own Words: Day 7-8

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Day 7: We got up early in the morning and got dressed. Then we got off the boat at Castaway Cay and went to get our snorkel stuff then went snorkeling. I saw a hidden Mickey Mouse. Then we went to lunch on the island. Then went to swim out to the water slide. Then went back to the ship and met Captain Mickey, then met Lizeth, the cruise line Make-A-Wish ambassador. Then had ice cream. Then went to dinner at Animator’s Palate. Then watched an amazing show, “Dreams.”

Day 8:  We said goodbye to the amazing ship. We were sad. Got off the ship. We rode a bus back to the airport

In His Own Words: Day 5-6

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Day 5: We got up from sleeping and got dressed. We went to midship and got on a little boat to go to shore. We took a bus to swim with a dolphin. I felt it. I danced with it. I swam out to the middle of the pool. The dolphin came to me. I got on its belly and it swam. Then I took a boogie board and (the dolphin) pushed me fast. I had so much fun.

Then we took the bus back to the boats and got on one of them. Went to the ship and had lunch Lumiere’s. Then we went swimming. Then went to dinner at Carioca’s Restaurant. Then went to our rooms and went to bed.

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Day 6:  We got up from sleeping and got dressed. Then went to breakfast at Lumiere’s. it was a great breakfast. Then we went to watch Moana at the Disney Theater. It was so cool. Then went to lunch on deck 9. Then we went to the kids club. We went to our rooms and got dressed and went to dinner at Lumiere’s. It was a good dinner. Then we went to the theater to watch Tangled the Musical. Then we went to our rooms and went to bed. It was a good day.