(Note: This blog post contains Laura's thoughts about Christmas in the Granger home.
The biggest prayer in our family for the past few weeks was Luke being home for Christmas. We didn’t have any snow here in Michigan, and no mistletoe in the Granger home, but not even the many presents under the tree could compare with having our family all together in our home to celebrate Christ’s birth. Since this cancer journey has begun in August, Luke has had several unplanned stays in the hospital, for dehydration, fever, low blood counts...you get the idea. As a result, during the month of December, our family has been collectively holding its breath, hoping and praying that Luke would be home for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
On Monday evening, December 21, I drove Luke to the hospital because he had spiked a fever. He had been so fatigued the past few days before this, we knew his blood counts were probably quite low, so we have to be especially vigilant that his body doesn’t have an infection to fight. Luke was so disappointed, fearing that this hospital stay would overlap with Christmas day, but God answered our fervent prayers. Luke's blood counts bounced back amazingly quickly, and by Wednesday afternoon the doctors were telling us that he would likely be discharged the following morning ( which was Christmas Eve)! We still held our breath a bit, knowing that Luke’s health can change quickly, but by 1:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve Luke was home!
To be honest, I have been upset with God at times throughout this battle for my son’s health. It feels like a nightmare so often. But this week I see God’s hand holding our family. And I am grateful to my Lord. My brother sent a Christmas dinner. Several friends delivered Christmas trees...we had extras! Even Luke's hospital visit brought unexpected blessing. We have had an unusually warm winter so far, which makes our drive to Grand Rapids much easier. When we arrived Luke was given blood and fluids in the hospital, which increased his energy level immensely. Because his lungs sounded “crackly”, the doctors ordered a chest X ray and CT scan of his chest. The tests came up negative for pneumonia...no infection! Better still, both tests revealed significant decrease in the number and size of the tumors which had shown up on previous scans of Luke's lungs. What an amazing Christmas gift, to know that the chemotherapy treatments are having an impact!
Last night, while watching It’s a Wonderful Life, I cried during the last scene (I always do!) when the town came out to do whatever they could for George Bailey because they heard he was in trouble. I was overcome with the similarity to our own life, as I thought of the hundreds of people who have shown up, provided, and prayed for our family in the past 4 months. These are all evidence of God’s care and His presence with our family during this crisis.
We are so grateful, and we cant's stop, WON'T stop praying for God to heal our boy. (James 5:14-16)
Lu & James
(for Sam, Jay & Luke)
(Note: this post contains Laura's thoughts...going forward hopefully this blog will include more entries from her and maybe from Luke as well!)
There are soooooooo many people praying for us that I can't even count them all. I think about Abraham standing under the night sky while God told him, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” (Genesis 15:5) There are many prayer groups and Bible Study groups who have found out about Luke through one of our friends or relatives and are praying daily for Luke. I have a group of internet friends who are spread around the country who have their families, friends and entire churches praying for him. There is even a church in Sarajevo that is praying for Luke. We are so touched and encouraged to hear that so many very young children are praying every day for Luke as well. My eyes begin to well with tears imagining these innocent, pure-hearted little ones praying for Luke's healing from this terrifying disease. I think of these people, all ages, from all walks of life, from all around the world, praying for Luke and I am humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude.
We’ve also gotten hundreds of letters and cards from people who are praying for Luke. A couple of months ago we received a card from a church group in Illinois who are praying for Luke. There were several personal notes and signatures to him on this card. I read through all the names hoping to recognize one. But I did not. It was a mystery to me. A couple of weeks later my best friend Rhonda asked me if Luke had received a card from her dad (who I had never met). I began trying to remember such a card and then she said it was from his church and I finally put the pieces of the puzzle together. The card we received from Illinois was from him! Last month Rhonda's father was visiting her family and specifically paid a visit to Luke because he wanted to encourage him in person. We are incredibly touched to know that more strangers than we can imagine are caring about and praying for our son!
Yesterday when we arrived home from the hospital, after a 5-day chemo treatment, there was card and decorated jar waiting for Luke. I was floored to read that there is a book club in a town 30 minutes from the Lansing area that sent Luke this card and jar full of money to Luke. We’re not sure who actually delivered it to our house because we were at the hospital for the past 5 days. The card read: “Each month we collect a little bit of money with the plan to encourage someone at Christmas. This year, Christmas 2015 Jar’s hero is….YOU! May it encourage you, bless you, and bring a smile to your difficult situation.” It certainly brought a smile to Luke’s face! There was over $130 in the jar. That's a lot for a 15 year old boy! But even if the jar had only had a few dollars in it, it would have blessed us, just knowing that these strangers were thinking about Luke and wanting to encourage him.
The list of blessings from friends, family and strangers, just in the past few days is even longer. The grandparents of another patient on Luke’s floor at the hospital wanted to treat everyone to lunch, so they gave each family on the oncology floor a gift card to one of the restaurants in the food court near the hospital. My good friends made Luke a banner that has Romans 8:18 printed on it, and it's hanging on the wall above his bed. We've had Christmas goodies and MANY trees (!) delivered to our home. Last night yet another dinner brought to our home, this time by an apartment of college students who are studying for finals.
So, “I thank my God every time I remember you...with joy.” (Philippians 1:3-4) Thank you to friends and strangers for blessing Luke and our family with your kindness and generosity! Please keep praying for God to heal our boy.
Grace and Peace,
(for James, Sam, Jay & Luke)
Thank you for always praying for Luke and for our family. It means so much. Luke is in the middle of a longer round of treatment, receiving one dose per day for 5 consecutive days. We will be coming home from the clinic on Tuesday. His body needs time to bounce back from the effects this particular drug, so he will be home (we're hoping!) for about two weeks before his next round.
You all are so gracious in asking "how can we pray?" and "what can we do?" Here are some specific ideas:
1) For Luke to indeed be able to stay home from December 15 - 28. In order to do that he needs to stay hydrated and nourished, and for protection for his body from infection or virus while his blood counts are low.
2) It looks like they'll be doing PET Scan and CT Scan in early January. Pray for huge reduction / disappearance of the visible signs of the cancer in his body. When we consider the destructive effects the chemo has had on Luke's body, we're hoping that it is being much more destructive with the cancer cells!
3) Prayer for our family. Me and Laura...for rest, and for peace. Sam...he has final exams this week. Jay...for God to guard his heart with peace as well.
1) We need to borrow an artificial Christmas tree! It needs to be pretty small...maybe 5 - 6 feet high.
2) Our meals calendar for January is pretty open. Jump in here.
3) Speedway gas cards, Amazon gift cards.
One more fun update...last Wednesday the folks at Celebration Cinema opened up an entire theater for a private showing of the final Hunger Games movie for Luke, Laura and me. Luke had wanted to go see the movie on opening night, as we have done with past Hunger Games moves, but he ended up in the hospital that weekend. The manager at Celebration went over the top to help us out, and it was a huge blessing for the three of us to spend that time together.
As always, our prayer remains the same. Can't stop, WON'T stop praying for God to heal our boy. (James 5:14-16)
James & Lu
(for Sam, Jay & Luke)
Today, for just a brief moment, we experienced some rest. It's Sam's 21st birthday, and our whole family was home together. We had our traditional family birthday lunch at Fazoli's and everyone got a birthday gift for Sam. Each of us then shared something we admired about Sam. It was difficult to pick just one thing. We are all so proud of him, as he has had such an amazing year.
We are learning this chemotherapy business as we go. Luke spent some extra time in the clinic last week, because his white blood count was very low. This was an unscheduled visit, but not unexpected by his doctors. The most recent medicine Luke received is known to cause severe drop in the white blood cell count, which makes the patient susceptible to infection. Once Luke began having fevers, the doctors wanted to take every precaution to make sure he didn't get an infection. That meant staying at the hospital where they could culture his blood daily, provide fluid and meds, and monitor his condition closely. Even though the days are long and we'd rather be home, we are grateful that Luke received excellent care and that no infection was found. He will be back in GR on Thursday for his next round of chemo, treatments 17-21 in his regimen.
Please pray for Luke. He needs patience, strength, and discipline through this long and difficult process. We are so proud of him, and heartbroken as we watch him feel lousy all the time, but our prayer remains the same. Can't stop, WON'T stop praying, for God to heal our boy. (James 5:14-16)
James & Lu
(for Sam the birthday man, Jay & Luke)