Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Fountain Filled with Blood

Our Gory Savior

When I see Andrew with all the tubes draining red blood from all the surgery sites, three tubes running from his neck, one in his forearm, one in his upper leg where they took the skin graft, and another in his lower leg where they took his vein graft, large incisions in all those places, staples across his neck, and now today, his face, swollen like a balloon, even his eyeballs beginning to swell, I am reminded of our gory Savior and how Jesus was a man of Sorrows well acquainted with grief.

I always thought that respirators and blood transfusions were only used in last ditch efforts when someone was floating between this world and the next. Well for Andrew, blood transfusions and going on and off a respirator is a normal part of his day.

I stood at his bedside as he likes me to sing to him. Song after song, now, all the ones about Jesus' blood are more vivid than ever:

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.
And shall be till I die, and shall be till I die;
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.

Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing Thy power to save,
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.
Lies silent in the grave, lies silent in the grave;
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.
- There is a Fountain Filled with Blood, William Cowper

Bearing Our Burdens

I want to tell you what a huge encouragement so many of you are to us. We feel as if our church and so many of you are carrying this burden with us. Not only by meeting our physical needs like childcare, cleaning, or cooking for us, but most of all, ceaselessly praying for us. When I see people I hardly know at our church crying as they tell us how they are praying all day long all the time for us or people I haven't seen in years, or even people we don't know emailing me that, burdened in their own hearts as if they were in our very positions, I am relieved to know that someone is always holding us up in prayer, even if I am too exhausted or confused to pray at times. We are very grateful to God for you and know He must be at work if He could provoke you to such prayer and concern. Paul said to the Philippians: "You have done well to share with me in my affliction," for which the Lord would reward them. (Phil. 4:14, 17)

I know that as you carry this burden with us, many of you wish you could do more, or weren't so far away so that you could do something to help. Know that your prayers are the greatest thing you can do for us, because the One who's in charge of everything that happens hears them and is inclined to say "yes" to His children's requests. I believe that much of the strength and peace I have is directly due to God answering your prayers. If not for them, I would be stuck in discouragement and sinful lack of faith like I had felt yesterday morning. More than that, Andrew has survived two surgeries, and so far they seem to have done their job. See what help you have been to us through your prayers? What would we ever have done without them?

Secondly, you cannot imagine what strength and encouragement your notes and words give us. When we are reminded that God is using our trials in people's lives to love Him more, it makes concrete for us that our trials truly are not purposeless but for God's glory, which is always what His children are asking for, right?

I thought I would share some excerpts of things people, many of whom we've never met or haven't seen in years, have written that sum up what so many of you are saying and have given us great encouragement:
We were thinking and praying about you and your family all day yesterday and will continue to do so!

We are praying constantly for Andrew. Tonight, we're meeting up with some friends and we'll all pray together for Andrew.

I was awake so much last night…..praying for you.

[This one was written to the person in the above passage, then forwarded to us. We've never met the author:]
Thank you so very much for the update on Andrew and Grace. Interesting, I was awake a lot last night and early this morning and I was fervently praying for them.

I’ve been praying for you literally non-stop all day….and I’ve checked my email about 30 times to see if there is an update on your dear one. ..I awaken throughout the night praying for you. May our sovereign Lord give you incomprehensible comfort in this affliction.

He is the greatest Sustainer! Please remember that there are SOOO many people all over the world who love you and are praying for you...but God loves you more, SO much more than we ever could. There are very few "sure" things in life, but there is NO surer thing than God's love for us. We HAVE to lean on Him to survive.

I probably speak for all my brothers and sisters - it was a joy and a privilege (not without many tears) to pray to our merciful God to uphold, protect and strengthen you and to give Andrew a future that will be full of speaking and singing God's praise.

You don’t know me, but I want you to know that I am weeping for you, crying out on yours and Andrew’s behalf, hoping for you both, praying Psalm 23 for you, asking God to uphold you and Andrew and your children through the prayers of believers and bring comfort and healing to you both. I want that so badly for you and yet, please know that your walk with the Lord has been uplifting to me and certainly everyone who has been in this with you from the beginning. So, if there is any good to be looked for, any ‘why?’ to be answered I believe it will be found in the picture that can only be seen from a distance. You know…. those pixel pictures that don’t make any sense when you see them up close? But you step back, and there’s Jesus. I am seeing Isaac in Andrew – Isaac’s willingness to place himself in his father’s hands at the alter. It’s the trust in the midst of the valley, in the hands of the Good Shepherd. That’s what I see and what I’m praying for Andrew and for you….. and for myself to continue trusting on your behalf to uphold you when you are drained.
Enduring ICU

For the past three days, we've only had a total of two nurses, one that does the day 12-hour shift and another that does the night one, so they are becoming more and more familiar with us. Our day nurse, Lyndsey, glanced a picture on my laptop and said, "Oh, what does Andrew look like?" I hadn't realized that all these people who've been spending so much time with him and seeing him more vulnerable than anyone ever has would never even recognize him on the street and have never even heard his voice. I showed her our wedding pictures from our website. She said, "Oh he's handsome." And I said, "Yes, he's very handsome." A doctor walked in and I showed her too. "He's very handsome," I told her. Later, I played a voicemail to Lyndsey that I had asked Andrew to save onto my laptop for me. "He has a really nice voice too," I told her.

Andrew's flap continues to look good today. Praise the Lord. There was some concern about his leg bleeding a lot where they had taken the vein from yesterday, but they took him off the blood thinners for twenty minutes and that fixed it. It turns out his body is much more sensitive to the blood thinners than a normal person his size, so they had to greatly reduce the amount they give him from the normal protocal.

His face really swelled up today, which is what I had originally expected after his first surgery. They've been keeping an eye on that since it starkly contrasted his lack of swelling after the initial surgery. They wanted to make sure it was not due to bleeding that was failing to drain. They said, though, that most people actually swell up this much after this kind of surgery. Now that it's the end of the day, they are concluding that this is simply the normal swelling. Thank the Lord.
Thankfully, they finally started him on feeding him through a tube. This is the first time he's had any nutrition, other than fluids and glucose, since Wednesday night before the surgery. He was also able to get some sleep last night and it seems like he's sleeping right now, although it's hard to tell, because he has been keeping his eyes closed the whole day today, even when he's awake. They said they think he's pretty out of it, because he's on more than twice the pain meds he was on yesterday. I was also able to get some good rest last night. We can thank the Lord for answering those prayers for our rest and a feeding for him.

Continue to pray:

- peace in Andrew's heart despite all the discomfort and craziness
- complete healing. That he would be completely cancer-free.
- That the flap would continue to be healthy. And his leg (where they took the vein) and forearm (where they took the flap from) would heal without complication. They are becoming concerned about his leg again. Worst-case scenario would be taking him back to the OR for his leg, but no worries yet, they are just starting their concerns again.
- That Andrew would have no more mishaps


  1. Praise the Lord!

    We have been praying for you guys daily and today, the high schoolers prayed for you guys.

    -Steven & Angie

  2. our pastor prayed for you guys this morning at church. you, our dear brother and sister in the Lord, are such an encouragement to all who hear about you. may our Father continue hear and answer our prayers for you and be glorified! may He continue to give you strength and peace and joy and endurance.

  3. Grace and Andrew,

    My friends and I will be praying for you. You're in my thoughts daily, even though we are so far apart. Let Andrew know that there are believers in Israel praying for him!

    Rachel Israel