Journal entry by Trish Richhart

I have heard it said that remembering is the hard work of grief. When it comes to my sweet Samuel, I want to remember every little detail.  However, those memories often feel like a knife to the heart.  This week is just beginning and the ache is already so deep.  A year ago today was the last time I heard Samuel's sweet voice or looked into his eyes.  I so wish that wasn't my reality.
A year ago today, I rushed Samuel to Riley with a fever. He had gone through a new round of chemo, and it had done the work of killing off cells, both the leukemia cells and the good blood cells.  We knew his ANC was zero and an infection was life threatening, but God had been merciful and given us the gift of hope.  Hope of his healing, hope that his story would continue and be a testimony to the glory of God.  Because of this, we were blindsided by what came next.
Just the evening before, we had a beautiful evening at home.  We had planned on making homemade sushi at Samuel's request.  It had been a busy day, it was getting late, and we had not even started making dinner.  We talked about saving the sushi for another day or just making sushi bowls which would be quicker.  Samuel was agreeable, but I saw the look of disappointment in his eyes and  mustered up the energy to make the sushi as planned. Samuel sat at the counter talking to me while I worked, hoping for mistakes which I gladly shared with him.  He was SO happy.  Then we ALL sat down to dinner together.  Every one of us, including his busy working sisters, was home and we gathered around our table and ate sushi together.  
That was Samuel's last meal.
I know that if he was given the opportunity to pick his last special meal on earth, that is EXACTLY what he would have chosen.  Exactly that.
What a gift that was from God.
I thank God every time I think about that meal.  I thank Him that He gave me the nudge to make that meal despite being tired.  I thank God that He gave me the gift of no regret.
That was the calm before the storm.  Most of you reading this know what came next and I don't have the emotional energy to talk about it right now.  Suffice it to say, we had a very hard week unlike any other.  But God showed up.  He always does.  We may have been taken by surprise, but God was not.
Please pray for Barry and I and the kids as we stumble through this hard week of memories that are so difficult to process.   We need God's sweet comfort. 
Still trusting in His mighty hand,

Journal entry by Trish Richhart

Oh, my heart! One year ago today...this photo (below) is of Samuel's hospital room door at Riley during his last round of chemo.  This round of chemo signified him entering a new season of treatment filled with challenge.  The goal was to bring his leukemia levels low enough to have a second bone marrow transplant.  We knew we were entering into a hard season.  This was Samuel's verse.  This had been Samuel's verse ever since he had relapsed after his first transplant 15 months earlier.  He had been given a Mudlove bracelet that said "courage." We pulled it out and he began wearing it and I taught him this verse, "Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God goes with you wherever you go " (Joshua 1:9) He knew Who gave him courage.  He knew Who gave him strength to face the many hard things he faced.  We claimed this verse.  So I wrote it on his door as a reminder to us and as a testimony to all who passed by or entered his room.
This is also the verse that I  whispered in his ear as he lay unconscious in the ICU just two weeks later, even on the day he was ushered into heaven, the promised land.
Monday, I began a new year of BSF (Bible Study Fellowship), a study I have been a part of with my children for many years.  This year we begin our study with Joshua, chapter 1.  As we approach the first anniversary of Samuel's death and I am remembering the events of his last month with us, I can't escape this verse.  Coincidence? I don't think there are coincidences with God.  The promise remains for us while we, too, are waiting to enter the promise land.

Still trusting in His mighty hand,

Journal entry by Trish Richhart

It has been a couple of months since I have written anything to share about how we are doing as a family.  Nothing big has been happening in this time. Although we continue to homeschool through the summer,  I have been intentional about limiting outside activities so we have a break from running around.  That has been good for my spirit.  Having more time at home has also been good for reestablishing habits and routines that were lost over the last few years as we functioned in survival mode so frequently.
Losing our Samuel created a large hole in my heart.  That hole will be there until the day I am reunited with him in heaven.  However, God is good and has been healing and smoothing some of the shattered edges of that hole.  I am thankful for the comfort He provides when I seek Him.
Barry and I just celebrated our 30th anniversary and were blessed to be able to get away just the two of us for a few days.  We have been saying for many years that we were going to go on our first ever cruise for our 30th, but after the year we have had, that just sounded tiring.  So instead we opted for a more restful vacation in a secluded cabin in the woods in Hocking Hills, Ohio.  We were able to rest and relax without responsibilities of home and family for a few days in the midst of some of God's beautiful creation.  We calculated that it has been about 14 years since the last time just the two of us have had a time away.  It was definitely overdue and we were so grateful to have that respite together.
Yesterday, it was officially 10 months since we kissed Samuel goodbye.  In church yesterday we sang the song, "Great are You, Lord."  I really didn't realize the song we were singing until we got to the chorus:  "It's Your breath in our lungs so we pour out our praise..."  In an instant I was transported back to the PICU at Riley during one of Samuel's last days here.  His lungs had been struggling to keep his oxygen levels up despite the high-powered oscillating ventilator he was on.  I had asked for prayer specifically that God would be his "Breath of Life."  Two people had commented that this brought to mind this very song.  So that evening when Samuel was stable and things were more settled I listened to it again with fresh ears.  It was hard to hear over the noise of that ventilator which is very loud,  but I strained my ears and praised along with the song.  The constant pounding of the ventilator melded into the rhythm of the music and I could feel God's presence in that moment.  It strengthened my trust in Him in that hard situation and gave me great hope.  As I stood in worship yesterday, I could see Samuel on the ventilator and could hear it's pounding sound again so clearly.  I could also remember my pleading prayers to God in that moment.  Oh, it was heart aching!  But then as I stood there in tears, God gently spoke to me assuring me that my prayers had indeed been answered.  Samuel now HAS God's breath of life in his lungs.  He IS pouring out his praise at this very moment.  Oh, thank you, God!  For as much as I want Samuel here with me, I want him even more right where he is perfectly healed with God.  I so look forward to the day when I can join with him in that heavenly praise, but God has made it clear that He still has work for me to do on this side of heaven.  So I will continue to live with the grief of separation.   Thankfully we do not grieve as ones without hope. 

Still trusting in His mighty hand,
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
1 Thessalonians 4:13‭-‬14 NIV

Journal entry by Trish Richhart

Today I found myself confused by my emotions.  Tears and sorrow have been bubbling just below the surface all day  threatening to erupt into sobs at the slightest thing.  I struggled through our family devotion this morning.  I was choking back tears during our read aloud time.  I couldn't understand what was wrong with me as these were not especially emotional or heavy things.  I stood in the bathroom getting ready, telling myself to pull it together for the sake of my children.  Then it hit me.  Today is the 29th.  It has been exactly 8 months since Samuel was with us.  While I may not have been consciously thinking about it, a mama's heart knows and remembers.  It marks the days whether we want it to or not.  There is an ache in my heart that will never leave.  And honestly, I don't want it to because that would mean I have forgotten Samuel and no longer love him.   And that will never happen.  Just because he is no longer with me, my love for him remains the same.  Now it bubbles out in the shape of tears because it has no where else to go. 
I am truly blessed.  I have a husband who is dear to me and 7 other children whom I love no less than Samuel.  None of them can replace the piece of my heart that broke off when Samuel died, but they do cushion the jagged edges of my sadness.  I am grateful to God for that.
At different stages of Samuel's cancer fight when his prognosis was poor, we asked ourselves the question of whether we treated him like he was going to live or like he was going to die.  This would steer our parenting of him.  We always came to the same conclusion.  We would choose LIFE.  We would live as though he would live and choose to REALLY LIVE.  That would mean living with no regrets no matter what tomorrow may hold.  It was a balancing act between discipline and frivolity.  Sometimes it was eating healthy and going to bed early to get plenty of rest and sometimes it was staying up late eating popcorn and soda having a family movie night.  Sometimes it was staying home and saving our money  and sometimes it is throwing our kids in the van and driving to Florida on short notice so they get to swim.  It was taking time for that extra cuddle, but not being smothering with hugs and kisses and tears.  
Now our season of fighting leukemia with Samuel is over.  God took him home and healed him His way.  Sometimes I sit here and think, "Now what?"  I was so consumed for so long with what it took to support both Samuel and the rest of the family.  So often I was stretched so far and wished I could clone myself so I could meet my family's needs better. I have traded that high anxiety for grief.  Part of me just wants to sit here and wallow in self-pity as I wait to join Samuel in heaven.   But then God wraps His arms around me and reminds me that the living still need to LIVE.  So, once again I come to the conclusion to CHOOSE LIFE.  We need to live today fully with no regrets because we truly know full well that tomorrow is not guaranteed.   I still don't know exactly what that is supposed to look like, but I am seeking God to direct my steps and keep me moving forward.
In light of that, I have been asking God what to do with this Caring Bridge page.  From the beginning of this I have shared specifically at God's prompting.   I will continue to do so until He tells me otherwise.  Eight months ago as I stood in the hospital room where Samuel left this earth, God clearly told me that "Samuel's story does not end here."  I still do not know what that means, but I trust that God has a plan and will reveal it in His perfect timing.

Still trusting in His mighty hand,
"I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. "
Jeremiah 29:10‭-‬11 MSG

Journal entry by Trish Richhart

It has been 6 months since Samuel left us.  
The 29th marked the official half-year.  It has been a hard season filled with so many emotions.  This week, in particular,  my heart has been very heavy.  The date on the calendar can do that, but I also learned that another one of our friends we met at Riley has joined Samuel in heaven.  Her family was the first we met there right after he was diagnosed.  My heart just aches for them.  I also visited another friend this week who has made the difficult decision to discontinue dialysis.  I feel sadness and grief.  As believers, we have this amazing hope, but we still deal with the painful separation that death causes.  
On top of all these emotions, our home is currently experiencing the "sickness that will never end." The majority of the family has been hit hard with multiple things, nasty colds, and stomach viruses causing everything to either come right back up or go down too fast.  Many in the house have gotten really sick. They will finally start to feel better for a day or two and then get knocked down with something else.  Thankfully, so far, I have not succumbed to more than a minor cold which is amazing considering how much literal sickness I have cleaned up.  I keep washing my hands, taking my supplements and praying.  I have been exhausted, though.  I've done a lot of cleaning and laundry and I am sure my body is fighting off all that it has been exposed to.   
It is in this physical and emotional state of weariness that I have approached this Holy Week.  In years past, I have tended to place most of my focus on the joy of Easter Sunday and celebrating Jesus' resurrection.  To be honest, right now I don't feel in a celebratory mood.  This year I am thinking more about Jesus' death.   I have been thinking about the shock and disappointment those closest to Jesus must have felt - all of their hope and expectations shattered.  It had to feel like one big giant mistake.  This year I can truly relate.  I watched someone I cared deeply for, whom I prayed for believing he would be healed,  die.  My expectations were also shattered.  However, I have a gift the disciples and Jesus' mother did not have.  I know about Sunday.  I know Jesus conquered death.   
But today is Saturday. 
The brutal ugliness of death is yesterday's memory, but the beauty of the resurrected life still lies in the future.  Not much is ever said about that Saturday after the crucifixion.  It had to be a very dark, heavy hearted day.  I think that is what grief is for the believer.  It is Saturday.  It is a lifetime of Saturday, living with the sorrow of death, waiting for Sunday.  But because of what Jesus accomplished on Friday through His death, and on Sunday through His resurrection, I know that Samuel has new life with Him and I will someday get to join them. That will be MY Sunday. I have this beautiful hope.

Still trusting in His mighty hand,
"He will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken. "
Isaiah 25:8 NIV

Journal entry by Trish Richhart

We made our trip to Riley last week.  I can't speak for the rest of the family, but for me, this was a big emotional step in the grieving process.  We loaded up the van full of kids and Legos and drove the familiar route.  For three years, not more than a few weeks ever went by without a trip to Riley.  Now five months have passed and it felt so odd.  The trip that I feel like I could almost do blindfolded seemed different, strange without Samuel.  It triggered so many memories, some good and some very hard.  One took me by complete surprise.  We stopped for gas and I went inside to use the restroom.  It wasn't until that moment that I was blindsided with the realization that this was the same place I'd stopped with Samuel on his very last trip to Indy.  That had been a hard and stressful stop due to his condition that day and the memory overwhelmed me.  While I ached thinking about it, I can see now how God had provided in that situation.  There's more to the story, but the important part is that He gave me the strength that day to do what I needed to do to get a very sick Samuel inside and to the bathroom and provided in a way that gave me peace of mind.  God was with me, walking me through even that and I am so grateful.
We arrived at Riley and unloaded our many bags of Lego sets and brought them into the lobby.  The same lobby I have probably walked through over a hundred times, pushed Samuel around on his IV pole, sat and read him  books, gotten snacks from the cafe for him.  I still remember clearly the very first day we walked into that lobby with Samuel and a fresh leukemia diagnosis.  And there we were again, without him.  That was hard.  But I looked around at the kids.  Micah and Rose were running around happily and I thought, "We're OK."  There is a piece missing in each of our hearts, but we will take one step at a time and life will continue.  We grieve, but we do not grieve as ones without hope.
Cassie, the art therapist that Samuel adored, came to greet us.  It was so good to see her and give her a hug and once again express our heartfelt thanks to her for investing in a friendship with our boy that meant so much.  I have so many others there that I would like to thank, as well,   At some point I would like to go back again and make it past the lobby, but this was enough for my heart for now.  
Then, in honor of Samuel, we went to lunch at Sushi Boss which was one of his favorite places.  The boy loved his sushi!  We would often stop here after a clinic visit before heading back home.  There were many times Samuel would plead for me to make a sushi run when he was either inpatient or we were staying at the Ronald McDonald house.  These are such happy memories with Samuel and it was good to eat sushi and remember him.  We ended our time in Indy with a visit to the new Ikea store.  We had watched the new store being built on our many trips, looking forward to when it would finally open and we could all go see it.  
All in all it was a good trip and Barry and I felt accomplished having done it.  We once again want to express our sincere thanks to everyone who donated Lego sets.  We were overwhelmed with all of the Legos we were given.  There were just under 200 sets and some were really big and beautiful.  We loved all of the sets, but the many boat sets along with all of the Minecraft and Star Wars sets especially warmed our hearts knowing how much Samuel would have LOVED these,  What a joy it is to imagine the kids like him who will get a lift in their spirits receiving them.  It would make Samuel smile. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Journal entry by Trish Richhart

Riley.  Just that word brings such a torrent of emotions.  This place has been the location of my very worst days as well as some of my best.  It is there we spent years walking in the valley of the shadow of death.  It is also there that I learned to trust God in ways that I never imagined that I could, and also felt God's presence in overwhelming ways. 

Some of the most incredible, caring people I have ever met work there.  Individuals who are willing to step into a family's worst nightmare and do everything they can to make it just a little more bearable.  While our family had no choice but to be there, they did.  What these nurses, doctors, art and music therapists, child life specialists, and so many more do is a gift - a gift that I can't even begin to express my gratitude for.

I have SO MANY MEMORIES associated with Riley - good, bad and ugly.  I literally lived there for the better part of the last three years.  I lived there with Samuel and so many of my recent memories of him are there.  It is also where I heard him speak his last words, take his last breath, and watched his heart stop beating.   I wonder if I will ever be able to even think about this place without tears in my eyes.

Next Monday we will return there.  After months of coordination, we have finally found a date that our entire family is available at the same time as our contact with the Riley Cheer Guild. We had requested Legos to donate to Riley in lieu of flowers for Samuel's Celebration of Life service and received almost 190 sets.  I can't tell you how it blessed our hearts to see all of those Legos.  It is a a huge stack (actually many stacks).  Samuel would have LOVED it!  They are all packed up and ready to donate.  We are excited to be able to share with others something that gave Samuel SO much joy while he was stuck in the hospital.   

While there is excitement about this, I also have a lot of trepidation about setting foot into Riley again.  I'm not sure how my heart is going to handle it.  My worry is that the flood of memories will overwhelm me and I will just have a meltdown.  I wouldn't care if strangers witnessed me doing that, but I am concerned for my children.  They are walking through their own grief and this is going to be hard for them, too.  There is nothing wrong with them seeing their mother grieve, and they have, but I don't ever want my grief to be an additional  burden upon them.  Each one who is old enough to understand, feels like this is an important trip for us all to take together. I think we all need the closure of being there.  So, my fervant prayer this week has been for God to smooth these raw emotions and give each of us His strength to walk this walk.  I pray this trip will be a step in the grieving process.  God is able.  

I still don't know what this grieving process SHOULD look like, so I am seeking God's wisdom constantly.  I would humbly ask for your continued prayers for our family as we press on and step through this. 

Still trusting in His mighty hand,

Journal entry by Trish Richhart

This photo showed up on my phone from one year ago today.  It was a memory that reminded me of Samuel's sweet contentment being home with his family.

After a 32 day unexpected stay in the hospital, Samuel was overjoyed to be home.  So much so that when an unseasonably warm February day presented itself, he refused to stay inside.  He and his siblings got out sidewalk chalk and began creating masterpieces on the front porch.  But Samuel got tired very quickly.  The sepsis and the long hospital stay  had taken their toll on his little body.  One minute he was sitting up drawing and the next he was laying completely flat and resting right there on the concrete, too tired to continue drawing.  I asked him if I could help him get inside, but he told me no, that he was happy.  He wanted to be outside with his family and he was content to just lay there and rest with us on the porch.  That was Samuel - easy going, not needing much beyond home and family to make him happy.  He could be content despite hardship.  I am so thankful for that quality and hope to be able to learn that lesson from him.

Journal entry by Trish Richhart

Dear Samuel,
Happy 1st birthday in heaven! 
I can't even imagine how great the celebrations are there.  I was thinking about your 8 earthly birthdays.  Your last 2 you were forced to spend in the hospital.  The whole idea of that made you sad because your greatest wish was be at home surrounded by your family.  We made the best of it.  Friends and family came to visit.  So many people made extra effort to make your day extra special.  It was very good, but it was not HOME.  This year, however, you get to spend your birthday TRULY home.  Your real home.  Your permanent home.  Your BEST home.  Even though we miss you dearly, we are so happy that you are at the REAL party now.

As for us left here still, we plan on celebrating your life by all going out and eating sushi in your honor.  We may even convince Patrick to take at least one bite, but I wouldn't count on it.  He loves you, but really really hates sushi.  There has also been talk of building and floating some boats.  We will try our best to focus on our happy times with you, but I am sure there will be a few tears because remembering is still a little painful for those of us that love you so much.   Perhaps it will be until we see you again.

I'm so thankful that I got to spend 8 wonderful birthdays with you here and I can't wait to celebrate even more when I get to see you in heaven.
Love you and miss you, 

Journal entry by Trish Richhart

3 months.  3 months ago today I watched Samuel's body stop.  The machines that were breathing for him were turned off and his heart ceased to beat.  And although I couldn't actually see it, Samuel passed from this life into the arms of Jesus in heaven.  What, for him, had to be glorious, was a really awful experience on this side.  There is nothing that can prepare you for what the death of someone dear to you feels like.  Death is the ultimate wrong.  It was never part of God's plan and were weren't designed to deal with it.  

Samuel's absence is felt every single day, but Christmas has made it feel even more profound.  My heart hurts.  I think my way to deal with it right now is to put protective layers around my heart, encasing that pain inside.  This allows me to go through the motions of each day, doing what I need to do, caring for my family.  It is what I am doing to function.  And when that torrent of emotions threatens to escape,  I push it back down inside because it seems just too great to deal with.  For the first couple of months I cried a little each day, releasing some of that pent up pain.  However, I've been crying less, lately.  It is not because the pain is passing, but because it feels too hard to deal with and so I keep it buried inside.  I fear that I can't keep it contained like this indefinitely.  It's like a volcano with all of these emotions bubbling under the surface.  You know at some point it's going to erupt, it's just a question of when.  I'm not alone.   Most of my kids have also stopped talking about Samuel as often and when we do, I have more than once had one of them say, "Ok, can we change the subject?"  Its hard for them.  I want to help them process their feelings, but I don't want to force it.

We are on the cusp of a brand new year.  Some new years feel like they are filled with hope and promise.  This one does not for me.  To be honest, I have suppressed my feelings enough that I am not feeling much of anything right now.  I have been taking time and trying to listen to God speak through this season.  One of the things He is commanding me to do is rest.  The last few years have taken a toll on me physically and emotionally and it is time to build my reserves back up.  So, as much as I am able with a houseful of many people with many needs,  I am going to choose rest.  I will choose to put my energy toward things that fuel me and not drain me.  It is a season to recharge and I am trusting that God will provide that now.
And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.~Exodus 33:14

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.~Psalm 23:2-3

Still trusting in His mighty hand,

Journal entry by Trish Richhart

As I write this, Samuel is in his fourth day of chemo.  He will have ten days total.  That was a hard thing to consent to do.  The reality of what chemo does is harsh.  However, the reality of what leukemia does is harsh, too.  It would take our little boy's life.  Chemo will be hard on his little body, but the hope is that it will destroy the leukemia leaving him with life.  So far, he is handling it well.  His appetite has diminished, but he is still able to eat and keep it all in his tummy.  He is tired, but has still had the energy to beat his mom at air hockey.  Thank you, God!

After chemo, Samuel will have virtually no white blood cells, red blood cells, or platelets left.  He also won't have the bad leukemia cells either, and that's the goal.  He can be given platelets and red blood cells (hemoglobin), but he will have to make his own white blood cells.  While he has a low white blood cell count, his body will not have the ability to fight off any infection, so he will have to stay in the hospital where he is monitored closely and can be administered an antibiotic quickly should the need arise.  Once his blood count numbers rise to a certain level, he will be able to come home.  This should be anywhere from 21-28 days after the start of chemo.  Then he can be home for 1-2 weeks before the process will probably begin again.

Because of the unique form of leukemia that Samuel has, the full treatment plan is an unknown.  At the end of this first cycle, he will be reevaluated and a decision will be made as to the next step.  So, there is no way to plan ahead.  If God wants to teach us a lesson on relying on him day by day, he sure has found a way to do it!  So, we do not know what the future holds, but we do know the One who holds the future.

Samuel’s Story

Site created on November 4, 2014

“ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

So, one day life is “normal” and the next day you get a phone call telling you to take your child to the ER for a blood transfusion.  We had no idea how our lives would change on that day.

Our son, Samuel, is five years old.  He the sixth child in a family of seven children.  He is active like most five year olds, so when we noticed a bunch of bruises on him, we didn’t think too much of it.  However, when a tiny sore on his tongue became nasty and infected looking in just a couple of days, I decided to take him to the doctor.  I pointed out the bruising and she thought it would be a good idea to go to the lab and have some blood work done.  

The next day started normal.  I was reading aloud to the kids when I received a phone call from my doctor’s office.  The nurse told me that Samuel had a critically low platelet count and that I should take him immediately to the ER for a blood transfusion. (They were at 2.)

Barry came home from work and we grabbed up Samuel and took him to Lutheran Hospital.  We were told in the ER that Samuel was to be directly admitted.  We bypassed registration and were immediately taken up to Pediatrics.  I had this horrible sense as we were walking in that he would not be leaving the hospital for a long time.

A doctor came in to speak with us.  The rest of Samuel’s blood work revealed that not only were his platelets low, but also his hemoglobin and white blood cell counts.  The doctor suspected leukemia.  My poor son who had never had blood drawn before was subjected to many needle pokes.  There was more testing, an IV, and a transfusion of both platelets and hemoglobin.

The next day, Barry and I were led into a conference room with a group of doctors and nurses while a Child Life Specialist hung out with Samuel in his room.  Both of us knew that this could not be good news.  We were told that tests confirmed that Samuel had leukemia and it was the less common AML type.  This type requires more intense treatment and is done mostly inpatient.  They told us they had scheduled us at Riley Hospital the next morning for a bone marrow draw where they would be able to better pinpoint the type with more detail and come up with a treatment plan.  

At Riley, the leukemia was confirmed, but with further testing it was discovered that he has an even rarer form of leukemia.  There are two types of leukemia most often seen in children.  The most common type is ALL (Acute lymphocytic leukemia), then there is AML (Acute myeloid leukemia).  Samuel has a combination with both,  biphenotypic acute leukemia (BAL).  It is rare in adults and even less common in children.  The odds of getting struck by lightning are higher than getting this.  

You can imagine that Barry and I were reeling from the shock.  This diagnosis and the treatment to fight it greatly affects our family in more ways than I can even count.  However, what is constantly in my mind is that my God is way bigger than leukemia AND He loves this little one even more than we do.  So, if he is putting him and all of us on this path, he has a purpose and He will use it for good.  

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him” Romans 8:28

We don’t understand, but we can trust Him.  The big picture looks overwhelming, but we can take baby steps and hold the hand of Him who has the strength to walk us through this.

“ I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:11-13