Hi everybody, I've been given the privilege to add a new post to Lance's blog page. I know it 's been awhile and although I might not make mention of everything that has happened over the last few months, hopefully I can hit the highlights as well as give an update on how things have been going for Lance, Penny, Elisabeth and the rest of the family. First of all, let me begin by saying that we have been so blessed to see Lance make leaps and bounds beyond what anyone expected. He has been back to work full time since January (full time for Lance is not the typical 40 hours, most HR people far exceed that!). He has been able to be around more people, especially his family, and he is going above and beyond in keeping that positive attitude that we all know and love about Lance. The truth of it all is, Lance may look the picture of good health and great disposition, but he is not out of the weeds yet. If anyone knows Lance like we do, he has such a will of determination, courage and strength that even on days when he is experiencing pain from his GVH (whether its in his eyes or on his skin that day) or practically falling over from fatigue, he always manages to keep himself going, to keep a smile on his face. The last thing he ever wants people to hear from his mouth is how bad it really is, but rather how blessed he is for what God has given him and amazingly when he asks for strength, its always there. When talking to Penny and Lance, you hear about the difficult trials that they have to face on a daily basis, but how they can give examples of God's love for them, in carrying them through all of this, is so awesome! It sounds so cliche` but you really can see the beauty in a disease that is so ugly. I have gained so much more love and respect for Penny and Lance through all of this and I think I can speak on behalf of myself and the other sisters when I say that we have been so blessed to marry into a family where a mother and father can have so much love for their children and even more for each other. They have taken Christ's love and poured it into everyone around them!
At this time I want to ask specifically for any and all of you to really take a moment to pray now for Lance's ongoing struggle with GVH. They have recently been told once again that this is something he may have to live with for the rest of his life. It seems like an easy acceptance when just a year ago it was still questionable about whether the cancer would take his life, but more than anything Lance would like to see a light at the end of this tunnel or even a sense of peace in dealing with the GVH. I love the verse in Hebrews 4:16 (NLT) "So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." Might I also add, the entire family is so grateful for your prayers, letters and encouragement that you extend to Penny and Lance, it keeps them going daily!
Now onto the "fun" stuff! I'd like to look back over the last few weeks at some of the neat things happening in the family and how Lance has been able to get his life back. As I personally look back, it makes me feel emotional to think that just over a year ago, I was wondering if my kids would ever get to just "hang out" with Grandpa anymore and how much our lives could change. But now I still have the echo ringing in my ears from a couple of weeks ago, as Grandpa Lance was cheering for his grandson Gavin (9 years old) - "Let's Go, buddy!", when Gavin scored a first place finish in the State 25 freestyle swimming event and broke a local record that was over 25 years old. It was Gavin who right away said, "Grandpa, did you see me, cause I broke that record for you". Having Lance there meant the world because Lance is no stranger to the sports arena coaching youth of different ages and sports as well as mentoring his own gifted sons and daughter. So when Grandpa listens, gives advice and encourages, it means so much to the kids. We were all so lucky to share in Gavin's success that day, sisters cheering on the sidelines, his loud-mouthed mother :), anxious Coach-Dad, an awesome aunt who captured it all on film, two Grandma's who couldn't keep their eyes dry :) and the lucky grandpa who waited til eveyone was quiet for the buzzer to cheer the loudest, "Let's go, Buddy!" It was an awesome day! Gavin ended up with 3- first place finishes and 3 new records for the YMCA (VERY rare!). Many of the records he broke were held by kids for many years and who have now gone onto to be great swimmers and one is actually trying out for the olympic time trials in Omaha this summer.
Gavin with Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Elisabeth and Dad at State!
Our 5-year old daughter Evie was also able to have some special time with Grandma and Grandpa for a whole weekend! She was so excited and the one-on-one time was so good for her. Even though we missed her, we were so happy to know she was able to have such a neat experience.
Helen, our 7-year old daughter was also on the swim team and made great strides with her swimming abilities and competitive drive. She has always been our artist, but now we discovered a great athlete in there too and next year she plans on going to State for swimming as well.
Gwendolyn, 4, is our youngest and although she is our most petite girl, she has a fearless side to her and hopes to catch up to her siblings one of these days. She will start soccer for the first time in a couple of weeks and we can't wait to see her go!
Hayden (3) and Camryn (8 months) are Cory and Jamie's little girls and they are growing so fast too! Hayden is quite the conversationalist and if there was anything you ever needed to know, she will tell you! She also loves to play practical jokes (wonder who she got that from?) Camryn is working on crawling, but if she can't get where she needs to, she will definitely let you know, she may not talk quite yet but she knows how to communicate and if you want to keep her happy, don't hold back on the mashed potatoes!
Dillan (3) and Chayce (almost a year!) are Justin and Ashley's kids and they too are getting so big and learning so much! Dillan is the big sister looking after her little brother, Chayce. She loves being a big sister. Chayce will be celebrating his 1st birthday on March 31st surrounded by family and friends at their home near Waterloo, what a big milestone!
Penny and Lance are such proud grandparents and if the last month or so is any indication of how things will go for the next few years, Grandma and Grandpa will have many more grandkids' events to look forward too.
Aunt Elisabeth is also very proud of her nieces and nephews and makes time to be with them as often as she can. This past week has been a big week for her as she just started a different position at Emmaus in the Believers Stewardship Services department working as an administrative assitant for Drew Tuecke. This job has come with a huge responsibilty load but undoubtedly nothing she can't handle. If her time and energy spent being by her parents' side through the trials of dealing with Lance's cancer say anything about her loyalty and dedication, she will make one of their best employees yet. We are all so proud of Elisabeth as she steps out to take on this new role and blossom with confidence, she will do great!
Once again, thank-you to everyone for your continued support! Thank-you for keeping Lance and his family in your prayers, he would not be where he is without them! We hope to blog again soon!
(Nathan's wife, and grateful daughter-in-law to Penny and Lance) :)