Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Good News

Hello friends,

Today we visited with the Oncologist to get the results of Caleb's scan and the news is good - there has been no change in his tumor since February. This news is of course quite a relief for us and we are so very grateful as we reflect on it. Our son is being sustained through this trial and we hope this news brings joy to your hearts as it does ours.

Our next date is August 9 when we see his eye doctor and then August 22 when we will visit with Endocrinology and potentially conduct more blood studies for hormone levels. The next MRI will be in three months.

We know we are not waking through this alone and we know we have a heavenly father who is intimately aware of this situation. Please join with us in thanksgiving for His continued blessings.

Thank you all so very much for your love, care and prayers.

Austin & Nicole

Monday, July 18, 2011


First of all we want to say how truly encouraged our hearts were and are that so very many of you took the time to pray with us a couple of Sundays ago. We were humbled by those who gathered around us in our church body, and by those from Harpeth Hills and many others in the Nashville area! Wow! We wholeheartedly believe that God heard all of our fervent prayers for Caleb; we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for going to the Father on our behalf not only collectively that Sunday but all of the many times you have prayed for us over the years. What a gift!

To keep you updated, Caleb is having another MRI tomorrow Tuesday, July 19th. We then will find out the results on Wednesday. We will keep you posted.

Many have asked how we have been doing with all of this, and I thought I’d take a moment to share. I was singing last night to the kids the song, “I will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord Forever,” and it dawned on me how I truly wanted to sing to you of His mercies over the past couple of months. During this time we have heard news that we hoped we would never ever hear from any doctors at any time. It felt like a nightmare coming true- the nightmare in the back of our minds the past 4 and a half years. We have felt and still do feel fear, anxiety, and sadness, but I can honestly say that in the midst of these very strong emotions we don’t feel consumed or characterized by them. We know this strength is not of ourselves but from our heavenly Father, because we know there have been days we could literally be paralyzed in fear or swimming in our own tears. I have told several people that I have felt like I’m walking in some scary deep dark woods; however instead of panicking or being paralyzed in fear, I realize that I am not alone- that Christ is present. I still cannot see where I am going, and it feels really scary, but I know that He is with me and ultimately He is in control. That is an amazing feeling! The God of the heavens and earth is with me and at work in me- the Emmanuel, the Jehovah Shama! He is with Caleb and Austin and every single one of us- it’s “His incomparably great power that is at work within us who believe (Eph. 1:19,20)- the same amazing power that raised Christ from the dead! I was reminded of a verse from a friend- 2Cor. 4;8-9 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” Paul was not consumed because he was being lifted up by God’s everlasting arms “for those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength…” Isaiah 40:31 We are experiencing Him in this way and we thank you for your prayers. We know that we are not the only ones walking through hard things, and we would absolutely love to pray for you. Please let us know how we might better do that.

We have truly been encouraged that God has delivered us today from having to take action through treatment at Vanderbilt. God has answered all of our and your prayers on that so far, and we are very grateful. I feel like there is more to share of the things he is teaching us and the prayers He's answering, but I will have to write more later. For now I'd like to share the highlights we've had in the midst of the storms over the past 2 months.God has been so good!

Here were are at our Adoption Yard Sale! We raised over $1000 dollars!! Wow! We think the Lord multiplied it before our eyes! Caleb sold lemonade for several hours and yelled, "Lemonade for sale! We're adopting!" from the top of his lungs!! ;) He kept asking why people were laughing at him! We long to know the child God has for us and look forward to bringing her home.

Here are all the kids helping out. Chase's girlfriend, Krystle, came up to help watch Annelise for the day. She was a tremendous blessing! Thank you again!!

Enjoying a day at the zoo.

Annelise turned 2 in June! We can't believe it! She is talking up a storm (putting 3-5 words together) and she makes us laugh every day! Some of our favorite things she is saying these days are: Whyee (why), LaLa (water), GiGi (her lovey), What do do daddy? (what are you doing daddy), framfreen (trampoline), Ah Ah (monkey).
She is taking a interest in accessories and jewelry lately. She puts on my bracelets one by one up past her elbow. She slips on my heals and surprisingly walks quite well in them!! She is also loving baby dolls. She bounces gently while holding one and says "Sh Sh Sh" in a rhythmic fashion to put the baby to sleep- it's precious!! I painted her toenails for the 1st time on her birthday- she was so excited. We have been eating her up lately!!Here she is celebrating her birthday at Ma's- she received all kinds of dress-up jewelry and loved it!

For her birthday we had a dance party/cookout at a nearby park. Austin dubbed a CD of our favorite dance music to play for everyone. Annelise loved it!

Dancing with Daddy

Here we are doing the YMCA song- all the kids joined in for some silly dancing.
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make a wish!

Here she is modeling some of her snazzy gifts!

Annelise loves Miss Krystle! She gave Annelise the apron with her name on it- how sweet!

The next week Annelise and I had a couple of days without Caleb because he was enjoying VBS at my parents' church. We had some special moments together- it lightly rained one morning, and we had fun playing with her new umbrella and hat.
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Moments before Annelise's birthday party, we took Caleb down to the river and baptized him. It was truly a beautiful, memorable moment I won't forget. I love the history behind baptism and the connection it brings to all believers. Christians have been baptized for two thousands years now- and many more Jews before them- repenting of their sins and getting themselves ready for the long-awaited Messiah. I can't imagine how beautiful it must have been to stand there on the edge of the river and see Jesus being baptized. What a sight! To Caleb: We are so very proud of you for taking this step of faith. We look forward to watching our Father transform you into His likeness with ever increasing glory...2Cor. 3:18

I also loved watching my amazing husband have the privilege of baptizing our 1st born. He is the most fabulous father!

What a moment!

Caleb said, "Whoa! That was cold!"
To see more pics of Caleb's baptism and Annelise's birthday, click here.
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Also in June we had the privilege of keeping the Kramer kids on and off for a week while their parents took their 1st of two trips over seas to bring home their adopted son. Timothy loved playing dress up with Caleb- he's a knight/superhero- makes sense to me! (I love Annelise in this cowboy hat and pistol! )

Stella loved the rocket. I couldn't get enough kisses from those adorable cheeks!

Caleb and Emily had a sleepover, and we took them to the opening night of Cars2!! They were thrilled and couldn't wait for it to begin! These two kids have been obsessed with Cars for years!! It was a fun night.
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Also at the end of June Austin surprised me with tickets to the New Kids on the Block concert!! I was ecstatic!! When I was between the years of 10-13, I was a die-hard fan. It felt like being a kid again-Austin was so sweet to take me- he was one of just a few men in the arena with a gazillion 25-40 year olds!!

I sang the whole night from the top of my lungs! ;)

Another major event took place in the month of nephew, David Grayson, was born on the 24th! It was such a special moment to be there with my family as the excitement rose with the anticipation of his arrival. 

These are the proud parents, Hunter and Leslie. He was a big boy- over 8 lbs with black hair and as cute as a button!

Here's Mom and Dad with them before Grayson arrived. They named him David which is Hunter's 1st name, my father's, and my grandfather's name. How special!

I can't believe my little brother is a daddy!!! Wow! It was fun chatting with Will T. in the waiting room- he always makes me laugh!

This is one of my favorites- a true, genuine grin on Annelise! She was in hog-heaven holding baby Grayson!
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And lastly the 4th of July- we enjoyed two cookouts that weekend with lots of pics you can see here. We love you, friends! Thanks for being the hands and feet of Christ to us in these hard times in life.

They are growing up!

The 4th seems to come faster every year!

This is how Annelise watched the fireworks on the 4th- whenever she's a little nervous or scared, she gasps and covers her mouth- it's precious. Click here to see more 4th of July pictures.

Grace upon grace to you- Nicole
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Friday, July 01, 2011

Test Update

Hello friends,

From our last post you will recall that we had another round of blood tests to confirm previous findings of elevated growth hormone levels in Caleb. We heard back from our doctors this week that while the levels were slightly lower than previously recorded his levels were still elevated above normal.

They ran another test on two different hormones that check for the onset of puberty at a chemical level. They ran this test not because he shows signs of puberty, but because studies show that if this tumor is behaving like it is expected there could be indications of early onset of puberty. We were saddened to find out that we also have this problem to deal with in Caleb. The levels of these hormones in his body were also elevated.

After chatting with the doctors they are still uncertain about the prognosis for Caleb though – in most circumstances you will have some physical complications to deal with before you resort to treatment. In Caleb’s case we simply don’t have any physical complications. In one conversation I was told that “Caleb really is in a very small percentage of patients – he does not have the physical complications that are typically present.” As scary as this sounds, I really do believe this is not an accident – that there are reasons beyond our understanding that Caleb has been insulated from the impact of his situation.

Because Caleb does not have physical complications – only bio chemical – the professional community is torn with how to move forward with him. There are known risks in both of the treatment options (Hormone Therapy & Chemo) – and there are known complications that will occur. Here you have a child who does not presently have complications and both options for treatment will create problems in his physical body. This conservative attitude of reservation is one that really gives us peace as we move forward, and were thankful to hear their struggle with this.

The next steps for Caleb will be that he will have another MRI at the end of July and he will have more blood work done in August with the present understanding that absent big changes we will do that every two months. The thought of putting him through this is very hard for us, but given the alternative we think it is the wisest decision that could be made at the moment.

We continue to look for ways to help his body win this fight, and we continue to seek your prayers for the healing of our son. We are scheduled to have a time of prayer for Caleb this Sunday 7/3/11 from 11:45 – 12:15pm at Blackman Middle School – our church meets at this school ( We will have child care provided, and anyone who can make it is welcome to come seek the Lord for the healing that we truly believe He can provide.

If you cannot make it on Sunday but would like to join us in this time of prayer from afar here is what we will be asking for prayers with.
  • That Caleb’s body will make war on the tumor and that it will be taken from him. It is known that these events do happen, and it has even been experienced by our medical team. We are asking that however God has made it so that our bodies can attack these things that are not supposed to be there will be activated in Caleb, and we will see a miracle take place. That Caleb will come through this struggle unscathed, whole and healthy.
  • That Caleb’s vision will remain healthy. A great risk of this tumor is the loss of his vision. If there is vision loss it is unknown if it could be restored through therapy such as chemo. We are praying that this will not happen to Caleb, that his body will be protected from this risk.
  • That Caleb will remain emotionally & socially healthy as he continues to learn more about his condition. He presently knows very little about what is going on. As he learns more there is the great likelihood that he will fear it or that he will see himself as “different” than his friends.
  • That Caleb will not experience physical signs of early puberty. This will be a game changer for what needs to happen with regard to treatment. His body needs to hold off the hormones that are presently elevated so that changes do not begin before they should.
  • That Caleb will not have long term physical complications from the elevated growth hormone levels in his body. There is the risk of developing pretty severe complications from prolonged elevation of growth hormone – we are praying that his body would either suppress the growth hormone or that it will remain unaffected by its elevation.
  • That we as parents will be compassionate and understanding with our son as he faces lots of doctors, feels fear, gets poked on and sits in cold waiting rooms. That we will show him the love of Christ and help him experience his emotions in healthy ways.
  • That we will make wise choices for his future. At some point we may have to make hard choices about his treatment, and we are asking that God will provide us with the wisdom we need to make the choice that is best for his future.
  • That we will be united as partners in this struggle for our son’s health. The stress of the situation can create tension in our relationship. We are praying that our children would experience a peaceful home that is full of love and grace even in the middle of the hard things of life.
  • That God would bring glory to himself in this process. That He would show his power through our son. That we would daily chose to place our faith and confidence in Him. That we would place our hope in him and not in a miracle – even as we pray for a miracle to occur.
It really is a huge blessing to have friends who care for us and are walking through this with us. Thank you for your encouraging words, prayers and support - you have been a very real blessing to our family.