Because it is the end of the year... and I have not updated in dayzzzzzz. I thought I would post our year update/Christmas letter.
If you are at any way connected to or have donated to the trust, you have already seen all the words on this post! I did, for fun and interest, add more pictures!
2013 has been a rough year for the Chastain’s. It has also been a great year. We have celebrated so many awesome and wonderful things this past 365 days… all the while carrying a load that, at times, seems too heavy. We are lifted up, encouraged and comforted, not only by those who love and support us, but by our Heavenly Father, who knew not only this path He had chosen for us to walk… but who provides a way for us to walk it with grace and strength.
Let’s start the family updates from the youngest up, shall we? That starts us off with one feisty little booger, Ryder. Ryder is 2, turns three in January. He is the strangest, sweetest, most infuriating child I have ever had the privilege to parent. He is loud, hilarious, smart, strong and cuddly. He is also stubborn and has to do everything himself. This year he has busted a front tooth clean away, leaving him with a nice hillbilly hole in the front of his mouth, and been on the receiving end of 7 stitches in 2 different locations on his face. He is rough and tumble, and all boy. He also is a lover and wants a hug about every 30 minutes. He stretches me as a parent. And I love him to pieces.
Rigg turned four on June 19th. He is obsessed with transformers, mazes, puzzles and asking why. About everything. He started preschool in the fall and I have seen an enormous change in him. He is more curious, more imaginative… and now knows all his letters, can count to “furty” (30) and is sounding out words. Rigg is a thoughtful child, he contemplates what he hears and sees and asks deep questions. He is learning about Jesus at his school, Trinity Lutheran School, and at his Bible study. I have been able to share the gospel with my son over and over this year. He asked me on the way to school one morning “how do you believe?” He also stretches me as a parent, but in a totally different way than his brother. He is sweet, thoughtful and energetic. I am blessed to love a son like him.
I am spending my time juggling all the different aspects that come with being a stay at home mom and wife of a cancer patient. I have learned to take over the bills, the home and car maintenance, and the hospital and pharmacy runs. All the while still doing dishes, laundry, loving and disciplining two growing boys and trying to keep up with friends and family. I have an amazing support system. If I am in need of anything, I have too many people waiting in line to help. I am constantly overwhelmed by the sheer awesomeness of how much my little family is loved. We have been blessed this year to have been given the gift of house cleaning. For the whole spring and summer a sweet girl I went to high school with paid to have my house cleaned once a week. When she was no longer able to do so, 12 families pitched in and have finished off the year with once a week cleanings. BEST.GIFT.EVER.
I have taken a very small leadership role in my bible study, Bible Study Fellowship. I am a substitute discussion leader and an overall fill-in where they might need me. The boys also attend BSF and love it. It is such a joy taking the boys and watching them learn the same lesson I am for the week. Along with BSF, I also started a small Etsy shop this year. Etsy.com is a site where people who make items can place those wares online to sell. In my shop, Printed Joy, I am currently doing art prints and cards. (http://www.etsy.com/shop/printedjoy) God has blessed my little shop more than I expected! I am filling 1-4 orders a week since opening and having so much fun designing not only the art offered in my shop, but custom orders as well. And, let’s not forget our family blog… which I am so bad about updating as often I used to. (www.andyandcari.blogspot.com) The blog has long been a baby of mine, I love to write and process all that God has done and is doing. It just seems lately my life is full with other time worthy things, and the poor blog falls by the wayside. I still try to keep updates on the Captain (Andy) as close to real time as possible.
Ah, the Captain….
A year ago, on Thanksgiving 2012, Andy was in the ER getting news that his tumor had returned. He underwent his second brain surgery on November 26th 2012. Since that day we have hit the ground running, so to speak, dealing with all the things that come with battling cancer. Radiation was done in Bloomington, IN for the first 6 weeks of 2013. While Andy was getting himself to and from treatments, resting at a wonderful facility in Bloomington (Jill’s House) and working on healing, I was home with two boys… trying to live a normal life as a single parent for a month and a half. Since that time Andy has slowly, ever so slowly, declined physically and cognitively. All the chemo and drug trial treatments, all the medicine, all the side effects from radiation, chemo, and drugs… have left him weak, tired and worn. Andy has had a couple different hospital stays, some ER visits, and a few scary moments. He has battled with massive swelling, drastic drops in blood pressure, and blood clots in his lungs and legs. He spends a lot of time resting and sleeping. It is an ongoing discussion between me and his amazing oncologist… the struggle between letting him rest and trying to find a reprieve for the fatigue and discomfort. His energy level is low and he is only up and going a few hours a day. It has been a hard transition for me, picking up all that Andy once did. But God has been gracious and has provided all of our needs… even some of our wants!
He still has 2-6 months of chemo treatments left, a number that will be determined by MRI’s and doctors as we get closer to that point. The drug trial drug he is on is supposed to stop the growth of the tumor, because of this he will be on it indefinitely. We spend every other Thursday at the hospital, getting treatments, seeing doctors, waiting in hard chairs. It has been a life shift… But God is faithful and we do not feel abandoned. Nothing is wasted, and we know God is using this for a purpose. Our prayer is that in every aspect of our lives, that God would receive glory.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly was are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal weight of glory. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ~
Andy, Cari, Rigg and Ryder