Sunday, July 24, 2011

Slow and steady...

Good morning! I hope all of you are enjoying a bright (albeit steamy) Sunday morning. We have had a nice morning so far, Levi's enjoying his bouncy seat that I brought from home and I am enjoying the pot of coffee that room service sent up with his breakfast tray. Steph is enjoying - well, of course the pleasure of my company... :)

One of the things that I have enjoyed about coming down on weekends is that each time I have been surprised and excited about the progress Levi is making. This weekend has been no exception. He was super-pumped that I brought his bouncy seat down, and is making his physical therapist's job easy by diligently bouncing away in it. He continues to eat better - yesterday's fare included a cheese quesadilla, a cheese omelet, and apple juice, along with his typical servings of goldfish crackers, chips, and cookies.

He is now sitting up by himself and we even caught him on his hands and knees this morning crawling in his crib. He is talking again, and resumed his normal practice of pointing at and asking about everything in his room and within eyeshot of our 4th floor window. It has been a very enjoyable weekend; it will be hard to leave later today, but the encouragement we get from his progress should carry us through the week.

His ANC counts are still down at 0, but his white blood cell count is slowly starting to creep up. Slow, steady progress; that's the name of the game right now. We are praying that he continues to stay away from any sort of infection or sickness, and that the chemo treatments he is receiving are doing the trick.

Caylee Grace is down with my parents this weekend and all next week, as I have to leave tomorrow for a business trip to Chicago. And no, to answer your next question, the Cubbies are not playing at home next week. From what it sounds like, she is keeping them pretty busy. Steph's parents came down to visit last night and sat with Levi while we went out on a little date (thanks guys!). We had a great meal at Longhorn Steakhouse, and the steaks were topped only by the joy of having some one-on-one time with my beautiful wife. She is doing such an incredible job; I thank God every day for her strength and perseverance as she puts her son's needs before her own and faithfully ministers to him as he progresses through this treatment.

Steph and I had a great visit yesterday with Rich and Maggie McClory, the founders of Gift of Hope Inc., a grassroots charity in Kokomo. They answered God's call to minister directly to the needs of families going through trials with critically ill children, and their charity directs 100% of all donations to families undergoing financial difficulties due to these illnesses. They provide gas and grocery gift cards, assistance with utility bills, and most importantly, prayer and face-to-face encouragement to their families. It was a blessing to speak with them, and their help throughout this journey will be invaluable. I thank God for people like Rich and Maggie, who serve as willing instruments to spread His love to those who are hurting. Check out their website when you get a chance - I will also put a permanent link to their charity on the top of our page in the next day or so. If you are looking for a way to financially help other families in situations similar to ours in the central Indiana area, I recommend you check them out.

Finally, I want so share a couple of verses with you. They center around something that is very important to our family right now: hope. The first reference was on a card that Levi's Great Grandma Gale sent, the second reference was one that jumped out at us during our devotions.

Romans 12:12
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

1 Peter 3:15-16
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect...

Clearly, we thrive on hope. It gives us a reason to get up and tackle this thing each morning. But, not only is it important to just have hope, we are told to be prepared to give an answer to those who ask us why we have hope. So, this is a challenge to you, our dear family and friends. Practice what you would say when people ask you why you aren't angry, why you aren't in despair, why you aren't depressed, why you HOPE in your times of trial. We are told that we need to be prepared to give these answers! Go ahead; ask us the next time you see us - we are practicing too!

We love you all, and hope you have the opportunity to love on your families this weekend.

God bless,
Michael, Stephanie, Caylee, and little Levi


  1. So happy to hear that Levi is doing better. So glad to see that you have met Rich and Maggie, and that The Gift of Hope will be surrounding your family with love, prayers, hope and support. God Bless..

    ~Ronda Tedder

    You can visit our little miracle Karter on my Picturetrail It is with the love and support of The Gift of Hope that has made this incredible journey for Jessica, Shane, Grayson and Karter so blessed.

  2. Sounds like a good weekend for the Whitesell family!! So pleased to read this. Before you know it little dude will be eating his food and yours too! I bet my Caylee Grace is in her element. Please give my Levi a big hug and kiss for me. Thinking of you all. Miss you Stephanie. Michael have a safe trip.

  3. So glad Levi is having a good week. You are a ministery in your faith. Our church is praying for little Levi. Chris's aunt Liz

  4. It truly is heartwarming to hear that little Levi is getting better. You both are an inspiration and an example of all things good in life. Will continue to keep your family in our thoughts and prayers. Christine's friend Susan