Thursday, February 26, 2009

Andrew's Two Week Letter

Sorry for the reticence. I haven't had a computer this week. The Lord continues to sustain and comfort me. Andrew's letters get me re-focused whenever I start to fall off kilter. I will post when I have a chance. For now, here is Andrew's 2 Week letter:

2 Weeks

Dearest Beloved,

I love you. Remember that time when we went hiking in the mountains before going to the Clark’s house for dinner? That was like our second or third day dating. You must have been so happy that you didn’t realize that you were hopping and skipping along on slush and ice on the edge of a steep hill that dropped almost straight down. The path was only about 1.5 feet wide, but you didn’t care. You were practically in heaven. I was actually quite impressed with you that day because you seemed fearless and confident with each step you took. The Lord kept us safe that day, gave us a wonderful date, and even provided somebody to jumpstart my car just as it was getting dark. The Lord always takes care of us doesn't He? I want you to be fearless like you were on that date in the mountains. Don't look down, just keep your eyes focused on what's just ahead and you'll do just fine.

I’m not here to lead you, anchor you, and balance you in person anymore. But since you know me so well, step back and think about how we would work as a team in each tough situation you find yourself in. Be affectionate with the kids and remember to keep pointing them to God. If they seem to get out of control more since I'm not around anymore as the authority figure you will have to step in and take my place as the highest human authority in our home. Also, remember that they need clear boundaries more than ever before.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Your Kindness

I wanted to thank all of you for the comfort and encouragement you all have been to me, as well as to Andrew when he was still living, through all your notes, comments, physical help, the list is endless. I can't express how much strength I draw from all of your encouragement.

Thank you so much also to the many of you who felt compelled to give to A.J. and Gracie's fund. Many of you have been asking for more information on the fund. I met with some of the elders from the church last night, and we are still in discussion about what kind of fund we are going to set up. Perhaps something like a trust that they could use for college or something in the future. It still appears that checks are coming in, so our decision is largely going to depend on how much they total in the end. Many of you have expressed an interest in still giving to the fund, so here is the information.

Please make checks out to:
Redeemer Bible Church
Please put "A.J. and Gracie's fund" in the memo line
16205 Hwy 7
Minnetonka, MN 55345

Also, it is going to take a few weeks to get the video recording of Andrew's memorial service up. I really loved it and I hope we can share it with you, since it included some of Andrew's favorite songs. In the mean time, the audio from Andrew's memorial service is available here:
Part 1 - Invocation
Part 2 - Phillippians 1:12-21
Part 3 - Letter from the Doctor
Part 4 - Personal Remembrances
Part 5 - Personal Remembrances
Part 6 - Personal Remembrances
Part 7 - Personal Remembrances
Part 8 - A Letter from Andrew
Part 9 - Romans 8:28-39
Part 10 - Ministry of the Word
Part 11 - Benediction

Monday, February 16, 2009



At church yesterday, the last song we sang at church was about heaven. I pictured Andrew in heaven singing something akin to what we were singing. This made me weep. My sister tapped me on the back after the song ended and introduced me to Noel Piper. John and Noel Piper happened to be visiting our church for the first time, since Dr. Piper is on writing leave from his church and Minneapolis is only a half-hour from us. I did not know at all that they were at the church and was very shocked to be meeting her. All I could do was blubber. The Pipers had eaten dinner with my sister and brother-in-law for the first time at our house while we were in California back in November, because my sister's kitchen was being remodeled. Noel thanked me for that and said that at least in that small way they had a connection to Andrew. I simply wept and blubbered, "No, thank you for eating in my house."

A few minutes later, after I had composed myself, I shook hands with John Piper for the first time. I told him how during Andrew's last months we had listened to his sermons on Job and suffering repeatedly and how it had greatly helped and ministered to us. I said how Andrew would have considered it a great honor to meet him right then because of how Piper had impacted his life, since Andrew had a collection of his sermons that he had listened to over the years.

Later, when I told my brother-in-law about my encounter with Piper, I said, "I'm not going to feel bad, though, that Andrew missed out on that, because he's meeting with Someone way better right now."

The first week without him

Andrew was right in the letter I last posted ("Day 1") that God would give me strength I never dreamed of when he left us. I never knew it was possible to truly rejoice that your beloved was in the presence of Jesus, while mourning at the same time, for even that rejoicing to supercede your mourning.

Even though I fought his death tooth and nail, when we were finally in the hospital, the truth that the number of his days had been written before time was so real to me and such a comfort to me. I know that all the peace and thankfulness for the time I had had with Andrew was totally supernatural and not of myself.

In the following days, I was surrounded by Andrew's family as well as mine and all our relatives. I'm so thankful to all our relatives who came out to be with us during that time. It was such a comfort to me to see everyone.

Andrew's brother and sister and parents were staying in our house. As we stayed up late working on Andrew's slideshow and putting together collages of his pictures, it felt so good to look at hundreds of pictures of Andrew when he was still healthy and cancer had not yet invaded our lives. It was so fun to be able to say whatever flew into my head at the moment, while I still was processing my feelings. I'd exclaim, "I love Andrew so much!" and have someone to hear me say it. Or I'd say, "Andrew is so handsome!" and Andrew's sister's husband would say, "Yeah, he's a stud."

We still talked so much about Andrew and in the present tense, his pictures so clear and vivid, it felt like he had never left and that maybe he was just resting in his room, as he always was in recent months.

On the Wednesday evening of Andrew's memorial service as all our relatives were at our house for dinner, I began to feel anxious about what I was going to do after the mass exodus of all our relatives that evening. It was Day 5, so I read his letter for that day:

Dear Grace,

Don't fear the future. Just take it one day at a time. One foot in front of the other. Keep the big picture of God's glory in mind. Continue to serve Him by being faithful in the little things. Faithful with your time and energy. Smile at the future, the best is yet to come!

"Prov 31:25 Strength and dignity are her clothing And she smiles at the future."

Let me pray with you...Dear Lord, I thank you so much for Grace and the kids. Thank you that we got to have each other for as long we we did. Thank you for your hand which has upheld our family through thick and thin. Thank you that you will never leave us or forsake us. Thank you that you love us so much and want us to know Christ so intimately that you would take me home a little sooner than others. We beg of you to take care of this family and be a father and a husband to them. I pray that they would know your closeness in times of loneliness, and that they would run to you for their satisfaction rather than other people, movies, Internet or other things. Please help Grace to be able to handle leading this home without me. Help her to learn and do the jobs that I used to do. Please make it easy and fun for her. Please bring joy and laughter into this home, and turn their mourning to dancing. Amen.

Love you.

Week two without him

Andrew's mom and my mom are still here. As everyone else has left, each day has felt a little lonelier. Last night I dreamed about Andrew for the first time. He was dressed up a little bit wearing a blue button-down shirt of his that I liked and black pants. He was standing up tall and straight, his old weight, not skinny, like he used to in his healthy pictures. We were in Target together shopping for new bedsheets, but they told us they didn't sell them. I wondered around the store feeling so confused, swearing that they always had sold them in the past. I hugged him and told him I missed him. I thought someone else had died, then realized that he had never been healed of cancer, so he would have to die anyway. The new bedsheets were to replace the ones that had been stained and destroyed when he had his first bleed.

I woke up having to reassure myself that the last six years was not a dream and that what we had was real. A.J. woke up next to me screaming. I comforted him and said, uncertain why he was even crying, "You know that Papa loves you so much, right?"

He said, "No."

I said, "Yes, he does."

He said, "No, but I don't know that he does."

I continued to reassure him. Somehow A.J. often seems to say out loud what I'm thinking too. I had to whisper to myself that indeed Andrew did love me, even though I wasn't feeling like it.

I went to small group last night and was reminded again how Andrew's suffering and death truly has affected people, which emphasizes for me that this had been the Lord's plan all along and brings me joy. As the days go on and I forget how much Andrew suffered and instead stare at pictures of when he was perfect and healthy, it begins to hurt more that he is gone and the relief that he is no longer in pain is lost. When the reality of how much his suffering and death has impacted people does not confront me as loudly, my joy also dissipates and grief replaces it.

I think it was Jonathan Edwards who described his marriage with Sarah as an "uncommon union." Even though our marriage was far from perfect (mostly because of me) that's what I think of what Andrew and I had (mostly because of him). I felt so accepted and cherished by Andrew.

When I met him in the fall of 2001, seeing him felt like coming home for the first time (even though I didn't even know him and he was completely unaware of it). When I consider living in our home without the very one who made it home, I am perplexed. But then I remember what he said, "Just take it one day at a time." And I remember how God sustained me that first week and continues to shield me from overwhelming grief. That it hasn't been nearly as bad as I had imagined it would be. And as Piper always says, if God has always proven faithful, then we can be reassured that He will continue to be faithful.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Andrew wrote letters for me to read the first five days after he left us, as well as at 2 weeks, 2 months, and for the watershed moments for mine and the kids lives. I read one tonight to the kids. I thought I would share them also with you.

Day 1

My beloved,

Rejoice because God’s mercies are new every morning. Rejoice because I’m not in pain anymore. Rejoice because God is faithful and will never leave you or forsake you.

I believe that right now God is going to give you strength you never dreamed of. Our God will not only comfort you, He will lead you and take care of you like a father does.

I know there are many things that need to be done. Don’t feel overwhelmed, just take it one moment at a time. Perhaps you might return to a normal routine as soon as possible with the kids and take a portion of your day such as nap time to take care of some of these things. God has been growing you so much with not being overwhelmed. I trust that you will be able to mentally and emotionally put one foot in front of the other. Stay strong. What would Andrew do right now? I would be steady, stable and strong. I see that strength and steadiness coming through in you as you've had to trust more and more in the Lord during these difficult times. I love you.

You could sleep in the same room with the kids and enjoy them. Don't let them mourn. Let them just be happy to know that papa doesn’t have cancer anymore. God answered their prayers from then they were just 2.5 and 3.5. AJ said that he didn't want Papa to have cancer anymore. I would love to see them run around saying "Papa doesn't have owies anymore. Papa doesn't have cancer anymore. He is with Jesus!".

Deut 31:6 " Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you."

Oh yeah, and don't forget to eat!

Love you!

-Your Beloved

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Funeral/Blog Letter after Passing

A brisk fall afternoon, the bright red and yellow leaves are falling from the trees at Round Lake Park, the sun is shining, I can feel the cool fresh air entering my lungs with every breath. I smell garlic and homemade Italian food in the wind. For you maybe it's a spring day and the flowers are blooming, or it's Christmas and the snow is falling and you are sitting with a warm mug of coffee by the fire. It's at those seemingly perfect moments that you know this all didn't happen by chance. It is not by chance that the leaves turn red in the fall, and it is not by chance that I'm not standing here reading this letter to you now.

After all the suffering I have seen thus far, there are only two things that I know are true. That I love my wife and kids so much, and that God loves me infinitely more than that. Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all who have loved, served, and prayed for us. I am so very sorry to leave you all behind, but at the same time I am so happy to be home with my Maker. Everything that I love about the fall and the leaves and the fresh air and Italian cooking in the wind, pales in comparison with what it is like in the presence of Jesus. I have not eaten in a very long time, but know that I hunger no more. There is no more pain or suffering, no more tears or sorrow.

Grace, AJ, and Gracie, know that God holds you in the palm of His hand especiallly now. Jesus will lead, guide, and protect you. I am confident that your mourning will turn to dancing.

Fight for joy in this. Rejoice because cancer can kill my body but it cannot kill my soul. Rejoice because my greatest sickness was cured in 2001 at the age of 20 when I believed that Jesus could forgive such great sins as mine. Rejoice because even through sickness and death God has done great things in my life, and yours. Rejoice because this is not the end, it is just the beginning.

Rejoice! Again I say rejoice!

I will see many of you soon.

Andrew W. Mark

Beloved's Suffering and Death Has Gone National

Wow. You can download today's national broadcast about Andrew's death on Way of the Master with Todd Friel here:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Way of the Master

Pastor Bob's message from Sunday will be broadcast nationally TODAY on the Way of the Master radio program from 2 - 4 pm central time. Please feel free to invite friends & family to listen. Listen on the web or find your local station on their website: Way of the Master

Please pray that at the memorial service this morning, that Bob would preach the gospel with clarity and power and that the Holy Spirit would convict hearts. Please also pray that the impact of the message on the radio this afternoon would reach far and wide.

Listen to the message here:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Memorial Service

The memorial service for Andrew will be streamed live on our church's website, tomorrow at 10 am central time.

***For those trying to tune-in, its available now! (10:35 central)

Monday, February 09, 2009

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Sunday Church Service

Sunday church service tomorrow, February 8th, at our church has been changed to be about Andrew and all that has happened the past few days. If you go to our church's website, at 8:30am Central Time or 10:30am Central Time, you can listen to the entire service streamed live. The link to the live services only comes during that period of time, though, so you won't find the link if you look ahead of time.

Hope you can listen.


With Our Savior

Andrew is now in the presence of Jesus. We praise the Lord that He called Andrew to be His and that Andrew is now rejoicing before the throne of grace without pain or suffering. He went at 12:35pm Central time. All his family was around him to hold his hand as he went peacefully.

Please continue to pray for AJ and Gracie, his mom and dad, his brother and sister, and me that the peace of Christ would continue to be a comfort to us.

More details on the funeral will be forthcoming. We would love for whomever can make it to be there. The viewings will be on Tuesday at Washburn-Mcreavy Funeral Home in Eden Prairie and the memorial service on Wednesday at Redeemer Bible Church in Minnetonka, MN.

Details for airline bereavement rates are to follow.

Also in lieu of flowers, a fund will be set up for AJ and Gracie. More details on that to come as well, but if you are interested in contributing, please email and details will be sent to you when they are available.

Thank you all for praying and for your encouraging remarks and for continuing to lift us up in your prayers.

Washburn-Mcreavy Funeral Home
Eden Prairie
7625 Mitchell Road
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Redeemer Bible Church
16205 Highway 7
Minnetonka, MN 55345
(952) 935-2425

Friday, February 06, 2009

A Gift


Andrew is still here. Perhaps he is waiting for his sister to arrive, who has been driving with her husband through the night from New Jersey. They should be here in less than an hour.

Even though his eyes have been closed the whole time, he usually is not sedated, so he seems to hear what we are saying to him. I think he has terrible bleeds when he gets emotional, then begins to hyperventilate, and then we sedate him. Please pray that would not happen when his sister arrives or ever again. It is really terrible that he has to suffer during those moments, and I don't think I can take another bleed. But what has kept coming to mind in those moments is that he looks like Jesus to me as he suffers. And I feel reassured that his suffering is not inconsistent with him being favored by God, because Jesus preceded Andrew in all his suffering. Jesus blazed the trail of suffering and went before us so that we could follow in His footsteps.

Thank you all so much for your prayers and words of encouragement. I am sorry that you all have to cry for him. Please pray that I would be ready for what is to come and that his family would be too.

I love him more than ever now. These 24 hours, everything reminds me of memories with him. Even the faded memories are vivid now. It is like our time together is flashing before my eyes over several hours, the way they say your life flashes before your eyes in the instant before you die. And yet, somehow, the Lord has shielded me from the grief that could completely overwhelm. I am so fearful of future grief, fearful that it will strangle me. But so far it has not come yet.

Andrew had said to me recently that we could be thankful at least for the time we did have together. I said I wanted more time and it wasn't enough. But as it all flashes before me, I just feel so thankful. So privileged to have loved so deeply and to be loved by someone so extraordinary that he could love me in spite of all my sin and despite how unworthy I was of him. He was such a picture of the gospel to me and taught me so much about Jesus' gospel love through the way he loved me. When we fell in love, I thought we might be the happiest people on earth. That is a gift. And I'm thankful to have ever tasted of it.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Just got an update from Grace via txt. She says Andrew hasn't gone yet, but is on high doses of morphine and has not been conscious since the last text (which was at 3:30 am). His brother has just arrived. It should be any time now. She asks for prayer that he is physically comfortable in his final hours here.

Thank you all for your prayers. I have relayed to Grace that an enormous amount of people are praying and pouring out their concern and expressions of love via email and here on the blog. I don't think she's been checking emails or been on the blog yet today, but I myself have been encouraged by the comments shared and I know that Grace and family will appreciate reading them when they get to it.

Please continue to pray for divine comfort and strength for Grace and their family and for continued peace.

If you haven't had the chance to read any entries below yet, I encourage you to at least read Grace's last post so you can read her own words on how best to pray for her and hopefully you will also be encouraged by her courage and faith.

I will continue to post updates as I hear from Grace.

For HIS glory,

Georgia Lee


Hi everyone, this is Grace's friend Georgia writing.

I got a call from Grace at 1:30 am pacific time this morning from an ambulance on the way to the hospital. She asked me to spread the word to pray. Andrew had a major bleed which the doctors said would happen (see post on blog from 1/24). Pray that the Lord would continue to sustain Andrew's life and if it is in His will that He would show His glory through a miraculous healing. Pray that the Lord would give Grace strength and peace, and also the same for the family surrounding them right now. And pray for wisdom and clarity of mind for the doctors.

The paragraph above was from emails that went out at 1:30. It is now 3:30 am and my heart is heavy as I write this post and I just got a text from Grace saying that Andrew will be going soon. Please continue to pray for everything above, but with this new information in mind pray especially for comfort, strength and peace for Grace & family.