Monday, February 13, 2012

Freedom + 9...

What a week. We’ve been huddled up at home, braving the ever-changing Indiana weather, and loving being complete.

Levi is doing very well. He’s eating like a champ, playing extremely hard with his sister, and sleeping around 12 hours each night. He has also apparently become a little chatter-box, and although we can’t always tell exactly what he’s saying, he’s pretty adept at getting his point across. If he becomes a little talker like our Caylee Grace, we might as well kiss goodbye any hope of a quiet car ride ever again. She’s been on quite the “question” kick lately – her most recent inquiry (and point of debate with dad) being “Why don’t monkeys wear shirts?” But we’re not complaining; our children have beautiful personalities, and there’s never a dull moment when they’re around. Levi is giving us a lesson in loving the little things in life. The pure elation over small things like taking a bath or wrestling with his sister without worrying about messing up a central line in his chest is heartwarming and humbling. How did I ever let myself get used to and take for granted the little things? God please teach me to appreciate all that you give me and to open my eyes and take in the moments and experiences that should bring me joy…

Levi had his labs drawn on Wednesday last week. They all came back good, although his ANC had dropped a little. This isn’t really that surprising or concerning; his ANC has bounced around a little at the conclusion of his last couple of rounds of chemo, and it is common for the ‘recovery’ phase to take longer each time. We are just hoping and praying that his ANC begins to grow steadily so that we can resume some of the normal trips and tasks outside the house. He has another blood test this Wednesday, so we’ll see what it does. For right now the plan is that we will let him recover all the way then take him back to the hospital for a bone marrow test to make sure everything’s still clean and clear. On another note, Steph is starting back to work tonight; she plans to head back on a couple evenings a week after I get home from work, since we can’t take Levi to daycare for awhile. It will be good to get her back on the path of normalcy and out of the house for a little while, not to mention the financial relief it will bring.

We’ve been asked many times how it feels to be done with treatment and to have everyone back together. Of course, we’re filled with joy and thank God every day for seeing us through this trial. But, to be honest, it really hasn’t completely sunk in with me yet. Maybe I’m just used to having them come home then packing up again to head back to the hospital. Not to say that I’m not happy, but more that I think I have yet to let down my guard enough to be overwhelmed like I thought I would be. It’s like over the past eight months I constructed some sort of coping mechanism, a quick switch I could use to detach emotionally when I needed to in order to stay strong and keep fighting. I am sure there are both positives and negatives to this acquired skill. It did help me get through some situations, including tests, waiting games, and medical procedures on my little boy, that a few months earlier would have devastated me. The downside, though, is that it is easier for me to shut people out or to experience things without becoming “emotionally involved.” This all probably sounds bizarre, and my Intro to Psych class in college sure didn’t mention anything like this, so I’m probably nuts. All this to say, though, that God is helping me break down these barriers I’ve built, and my joy is increasing every day.

This battle has produced questions by the thousands. “When will we know the results?” “What are the side effects?” “Is this normal in chemo treatments?” “Should we be concerned?” “What is the success rate?” And on and on… But there’s been one question that has been ever-present in our hearts and minds. “Why do these things happen and what are the outcomes of us going through this?” Honestly, I never directly asked the question. I made a conscious effort to omit it from my prayers. Sometimes it was because I was afraid of what the answer would be. Other times it was because I felt it led down a path of distraction and frustration. I prayed, instead, hoping some good would come out of the battle we were fighting. But to say that it was not in my heart and mind would be simply false. Of course we wanted to know “Why us?” Of course we wanted to know why we were fighting this fight; that's human nature. I think now, especially at the end of Levi’s treatments, we are even more prone to looking back and asking “Why did we just go through that?”

On Friday afternoon, I received a devotional email at work that sat me back in my chair and sent chills up my spine. It was a devotional I receive on a daily basis from Zondervan, and the title was “When an answer to prayer is bigger than our brains.” It highlights Daniel, in the Old Testament, who had been experiencing God in a very real way through visions and prophecies. At one point he asks in Daniel 12:8 “what will the outcome of all this be?” The response he received?

Daniel 12:9 “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end.”

That was the verse that came screaming out at me. It’s not that there isn’t an answer to my question, or that the answer is in some way disappointing. Nor is it that God is being dishonest or doesn’t know the outcome. Quite the contrary – the answer to my questions of “Why?” and “What are the outcomes?” do exist and will be revealed at the designated time. God is never early and never late. This verse was such a clear message to me to stop struggling with the answer to “Why” and instead trust Him and His perfect timing and perfect will. Instead of looking at God and shrugging my shoulders as if to say “What was that all about?” I should thank Him for allowing me to be part of something bigger than myself and trust that in His plan, something good did and will continue to come out of Levi’s battle. Whether I ever see it or fully understand it is of no significance.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Here's a link to the devotional I mentioned. Thank you all for your continued prayers. God is good.

Michael, Stephanie, Caylee, and Little Levi


  1. Dear Michael, Stephanie, Caylee and Levi,

    So happy to hear things are going good. We take this Valentine's Day to send you our love and give each other a hug and a kiss for us. We know that God has a purpose for everything that happens to us. At the time of the tornado we really didn't question why it happened, but as the days and years went by, we realized that God was answering prayer by fixing all the problems our house had before the tornado even happened. We still are in awe of the changes that have been made and sometimes have to pinch ourselves to realize that the house doesn't have those problems any more. Praise be to God!!

    Love to all of you,
    Grandpa and Grandma Gordanier

  2. Hi Michael and Stephanie, has it sunk in yet that Levi is FINALLY home? I know it's STILL hard to believe that all of you had gone through that journey and relied TOTALLY on YOUR STRENGTH and FAITH in God! Also knowing that you had your Family and people all around the WORLD Praying for You! This right here, is why You were chosen for this particular battle. You touched SO MANY LIVES with this journey and will continue to touch MANY MORE! ALL GOOD SHALL COME FROM THIS!!!! We Love You All and will Always Be Faithful Praying Warriors! xoxo Brenda&Gene (Thanks for keeping Us updated!)

  3. Michael and Stephanie,
    Been following all of your posts and am so thankful you are home and attempting to get back to some normalcy. prayers from Wyoming will continue for you all.

    Tauna Smith-Thiel

  4. Michael and Stephanie,

    I was doing some work at home, actually searching for IUH North logo images on Google, and coincidentally (?) came across your blog (Google is pretty amazing, huh?). I've been reading through your posts, and my heart has been overwhelmed by your faith and your recording of your journey to today. I have been moved and inspired. It was a little surreal to read some of the details, knowing that that may have been the same day I watched Levi toddle down the hall, Stephanie trying to keep up with him. And I remember all too well the day I was called down to Room 410 and took over care for him. I remember being insistent that I would come to him so that he could stay in his familiar room, knowing full-well that the little fighter would be back to himself by the morning!

    God led me to your blog tonight, and I believe it was so that I could be reminded as a caregiver what it's like "on the other side" -- in the patient's and family's world. I also find comfort and peace in Daniel 12:9. We all have our struggles, and in this moment I will take comfort in God's good and perfect timing for my own "why's".

    May He bless your family abundantly and give you His perfect peace.

    Julie, PICU RN
    Riley at IUH North