Christmas greetings to all our family and friends,
This year was one of God’s sustaining grace. Our family is continually humbled by your constant prayers, encouraging notes, meals and gifts that continue to flood in. 2009 has been a challenge. The Lord called both of my fathers home and I was diagnosed on May 12th with leukemia. I was in the hospital for both the funerals and four weeks later, Steve had an MRI for chronic back pain and discovered he had a tumor on his tailbone, stage 1- lymphoma. It has been living one day at a time since then. We appreciate the small things in life and are thankful for every opportunity we have to tell others how our Lord and Savior is walking with us each step of the way. Steve finished his radiation and chemotherapy just in time for us to move down to Detroit for the next 100 days where I received a bone marrow transplant on Oct. 9th. I have been so blessed to have Steve by my side day and night for the last 7 months encouraging me and praying with me when I felt so overwhelmed and discouraged. My mom moved in with the kids for most of the time, while Steve’s parents and other friends picked up the days she needed to go back to Gaylord. We are so Thankful for the body of Christ as our neighbors, Bible study group, home school families and Steve’s employer continued to support us on a daily basis. We are so thankful to tell everyone that I am home only 52 days after the transplant. I still go to Karmanos once a week for checkups. I am on piles of pills everyday to keep my body from rejecting my donor’s marrow and they are watching me very closely for the next year. There is always a danger of fevers, infections and graph versus host disease (GVHD) which is my old immune system fighting the donor’s stem cells which can cause very serious side effects. So far I have only had a very mild case of GVHD and continue to trust the Lord for my total recovery. Well, this is our 2009 in a nut shell. I get up every day appreciating the simple things in life; laughter, breath, the Lord’s sustaining grace and each of you. If you’d like more specifics, Steve created a blog way back in May with all the scary details and all the praises and victories we saw as we trusted the Lord, one day at a time. The link is www.theopper5.blogspot.com.
Now on to the biggest blessing in my life: my family. Steve and I missed so much of 2009, but the kids’ activities stayed on course, thanks to so many of you! Cassandra graduated from high school. She was a speaker at the commencement exercises and Steve got to hand her a diploma while I watched via satellite from the hospital. Her open house turned out wonderful and came off without a hitch due to our wonderful Bible study families we have been with for the past 19 years. They planned and coordinated everything for us. Other than me not being there, it was wonderful day for Cassandra. She decided to stay home this fall and attend Lansing Community College because of our situation. She is looking forward to transferring to Spring Arbor University next year.
Caleb had the opportunity to spend many days this summer with his six boy cousins (Steve’s sister’s) both at their home and up at the cottage in Charlevoix. In between cousins’ visits, he also found time to caddy again this year at the Lansing Country Club and work on his golf game. It’s hard to believe Caleb is a junior in High School and the same height as Steve. This fall he was blessed to be taken hunting 3 times by wonderful friends. Of course his first time out he shot an 8 point! He also surprised us and decided to play basketball this year and made the JV team. He has retired from piano and bought an electric guitar this summer and continues to hone his skills.
Callie spent a lot of time this summer helping Grandma while she managed the house. She is now in high school and has played volleyball for the last 3 years. She continues to improve and enjoys it very much. Callie also enjoys taking a few classes at Teenworks and loves the social aspect of it. She would spend all her time with friends if she could. She enjoys movies, parties and definitely loves the teenage years. Callie still loves playing the piano and guitar. A highlight of her year was when one of her best friends surprised her and brought up her other best friend from Indiana to hang out for a weekend!
Although this past year has been challenging from a physical and emotional perspective, we are so thankful for the comfort of Jesus, our great high priest. He continues to sustain us and strengthen us spiritually through this trial. As we celebrate the birth of Christ, we are reminded what He says to us in the book of Revelations 3:20:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
We are thankful that Jesus is a man of his word. Years ago He stood at both Steve and my doors and knocked. He has come in and dined with us, including those challenging days since May. He is ever present and we are thankful for that and for you. May you have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.