Tuesday, February 15, 2011

He is with us!

From Austin: We heard yesterday from the doctors at Vanderbilt with regard to the collective thoughts of the tumor board. They are in agreement that since Caleb is a healthy young boy with no complications relating to the tumor that to take any action would not be justified at this time.  We were of course relieved to hear this news and are so thankful for all of you that prayed for these doctors as they discussed our son.

Because the doctors are concerned with the changes in the tumor they have decided that what they would like to do is to get some baseline information on him so that if we see complications in the future we will have some standards to compare with. Because the tumor is very near the hypothalmus he will see an Endocrinologist so that we can keep good tabs on hormonal changes he could experience in the future. The doctors also really desire to determine if he has a specific condition that is often associated with a tumor in this region, and because of this desire they want him to see a Geneticist. There is a test which cannot rule the condition out but it can rule it in - if it confirms he has this gene then it is likely the rest of the symptoms needed for clinical diagnosis will appear over time. We do not have a date for the next MRI yet but the doctors have indicated it will be between three and six months out.
All in all we are comforted by this news... we continue to remain hopeful for the future and we ask that you continue to partner with us in prayer for Caleb's healing.  We are so very thankful for those of you that have expressed your love and concern for us over the past few weeks... you are a very real blessing in our lives.

From Nicole: The last couple of weeks have truly been a whirlwind of emotions, from deep sadness and fear of the unknown to the overwhelming burden of the decisions that we might and are having to make for our son both medically and naturally (meaning the diet decisions we are making for him and our family). However, as we've laid our heads down at night and as we've woken each morning and as we've gone about daily tasks, I have been amazed at the stillness in my heart- at the deep sense of the presence of God-honestly it's hard to describe. Most of you who might be reading this know exactly what I'm talking about because you too have had your share of storms in this life. I feel Him saying over me, "I am with you. I am your helper. I go before you. I love you, and I love Caleb." I open up His Word and He speaks to me- to me! I thought I might share some of the things he's been speaking over me not only in the last 2 weeks but in the last 4 years-I feel like it's one word he's had for me; however, he's been revealing it in pieces over the years.

Four years ago, God reminded me of the familiar verse from Lamentations 3 that I sang all growing up..."The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases...."; however, reading it in context and in the NIV version shed new meaning to me. The author just a few verses before describes a time of hardship deprived of peace that leaves his soul downcast; however he then goes on to say, "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassion never fails..." He chooses to renew his mind-he reminds himself of the Lord's great love which gives him hope and causes him not to be consumed- consumed with what you might ask?? I say consumed and paralyzed  in fear, sadness, and worry. This verse has reminded me to hold up my shield of faith to the flaming arrows of fear that want to consume me and to instead look for the mercies that are promised to me every morning. It has given me great hope as Jeremiah said in verse 20.

At a women's retreat several years ago, I felt the Lord impress upon my heart the words "stand firm" from Exodus 14 and Ephesians 5 and the calling to pray fervently for Caleb also from Ephesians 5. In Exodus 14, God is leading the Israelites out of Egypt. The Egyptians are close behind, and the people are frightened. Moses tells the people in verse 13-14 to "Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today...The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." In Ephesians 5: 10-18 (which I won't write out in full), Paul  is speaking of the armor of God against Satan, and he says 4 times to stand! I felt God calling me to stand and to pray hard. But what exactly does it mean for me to stand I asked myself? I feel He's been revealing it to me over these years...

I began to read a book by Chip Ingram called The Invisible War trying to better understand Satan and the spiritual realm we can not see. It has been truly enlightening- learning to be prepared and aware of Satan's schemes to destroy Christ's light within me. Also, in the midst of Caleb growing up over the years I've been amazed at how God has spoken to my heart as I've been teaching my son about Jesus and explaining profound truths to him- it's amazing how verbalizing these ideas actually in turn speaks to me! It's like the saying, "If you want to best learn something, teach it." We sing regularly the familiar song "The Wise Man Built his House upon the Rock," and I've had the challenge of teaching Caleb what that song actually means! It's not easy explaining Jesus as the rock and the winds and rain as hard things in life...but it's been ringing in my ear...ringing that Christ is the Rock that I STAND on-his teachings and in His Name I STAND!- you see I'm not capable of standing in my own flesh when these storms come- I will be CONSUMED in fear and crushed under the rains without daily choosing to believe (present participle believe- Beth More!) today that He is with me and choosing to receive his mercies today just as the Israelites in faith gathered the manna God provided daily...

Then again just last week as I tried to explain to Caleb what it means to be imitators of God (from Ephesians 5:1)- what do we imitate? We imitate His character, Caleb. Well what is His character? Well, it's the fruits of the Spirit. But we can't do that-we fail- but He has not called us to imitate himself without giving us help- no! He has given us himself to dwell within our hearts- to not only help us imitate him but to actually be Christ in us!!! I was taken back as I felt in my heart he said to me, "I am in you, Nicole- not only to help you imitate me, but to give you the strength to STAND today and not be consumed, to hold up the shield of faith today, to pray for your son today, to trust me no matter the outcome, and to have the strength to fix the food you are fixing for Caleb, to trust, to trust, to TRUST ..and this is what it means to STAND!...I was reminded of another verse mentioned in CBS from Ephesians 3:16 -Paul prays that we might be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." He dwells within me...there are no words for the peace that those words bring.

I've been humming a song lately and not remembering all the words- but today we sang it at church! It's called "In Christ Alone"- thank you Kevin Perry! God moved in you this song for me! It talks about standing! here are some of the lyrics:

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand...
(then at the end of the song...)
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Could ever pluck me from His hand
'Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I stand

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

Here is a link to Travis Catrell singing the song- it is truly powerful. I cried when I sang it on Sunday. He is speaking, if we will listen- He has a word for us all through whatever storms whether big or small. He longs for us to stand, to trust, and to watch Him move in our lives, in other's lives, and to ultimately defeat the enemy. Will you join me in standing today?

At the end of Janurary Austin and Caleb went duck hunting for the first time.
Although they didnt see any ducks they had a great time with Grandaddy and Will T.
They did get to see two bald eagles - which was a glorious thing to watch.

Caleb told his Grandaddy that his duck call didn't "sound much like a duck"
They got a chuckle out of this - Grandaddy has been calling ducks for a lot longer than anyone else we know! I guess the sound Grandaddy made didn't sound like "Quack, Quack!" Ha!
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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Eye Doctor - Good News!

Hello friends...

Today we visited Caleb's eye doctor at Vanderbilt. Because of the changes we found in the most recent MRI he wanted to evaluate his eyes. We are very happy to report this visit went well and we were encouraged as we left his office.

Dr. Donahue tells us that he sees NO change in his visual function and that his vision is tracking right in line with where it should for a child his age! He did this thing called an OCT scan which actually measures the thickness of his optic nerve and because he had the wisdom to do this at our last visit we had a good baseline to compare with. His opinion is that at this time we should take no action because we have a healthy child with good visual function - AMEN to that.

While we were there he called our neurosurgeon to chat about the tumor board and we learned that the review did not happen. It didn't happen because the neurosurgeon wanted to wait for Dr. Donahue to review Caleb and form an opinion before he presented the case. Caleb's case will be presented next week, and we are also blessed by the fact that the eye doctor happened to have a clear schedule at the time scheduled so he will attend. We are thankful for these provisions!

We will confirm this next week but we believe the current course of action will be another MRI in probably 3-6 months. We saw the pictures again today and got probably the best understanding of the size of the object we have ever gotten. The tumor is very real and there are still potential problems it will cause.

Please keep Caleb in your prayers and we invite you to celebrate with us today! There is much to rejoice in! We have received good news and our hearts are encouraged after having confirmed his vision is still in a great place. Thanks be to God for His protection over our child during this time.

We love each of you and are grateful for our support and love of our family.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


Hello friends,

Today we went to Vanderbilt with Caleb to get another MRI. The morning went great - our prayers were all answered. Caleb was perfectly fine with not eating and his cough was all but gone. Austin was not back to 100% but he was able to join us. These are all answered prayers in our book.

When we got to Vandy things went great as well. Caleb was relaxed and was in very good spirits about the whole process. When they put the IV in he hardly blinked thanks to this numbing stuff he had on his hands. When it was time to take him away for the MRI he was calm and quite the trooper about the whole thing.  Caleb was so proud of himself for how he took the medicine and how brave he was.... we were quite proud as well.

The waking up process is always entertaing because he is usually so far out of it. We got some cute video of him asking why mommy had three eyes and two mouths. After half an hour or so he was up and about and ready to go to pancake pantry for lunch. We enjoyed some delicious pancakes and then we were back to campus for a visit with the neurosurgeon.

The time reviewing the images was not nearly as pleasant. The news is still uncertain with regard to next steps but there have been changes and growth in the tumor that are not welcome. There is a portion of the tumor that shows "enhancement" - and this is troubling. There has always been this small part of it that has shown enhancement but that portion is larger in this scan.

The next steps are that a team of about 35 doctors will review his case on Monday to determine what is advised to do next.

We are really asking for your prayers for wisdom and peace at this time. Our little guy has such a great attitude and we want so much for him to lead a life with full function... we ask that you join us in prayer for his healing.

Thank you all for your calls and prayers today. We will update you when we know more.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


Hello friends,

Some of you may know this already but we wanted to drop you a note of reminder that tomorrow morning Caleb is having another MRI. It has been 18 months since his last one so we are of course anxious but hopeful for good news.

We would love it if you would join us in prayer that Caleb will not have anxiety about the process, for clean instruments and of course for a good report!

We will update you as soon as we have more info- which will be sometime after 4 PM. Thanks so much to each of you for your friendship and care for our family.

Austin & Nicole