Monday, December 15, 2014

An Update on Cherry's Father

Thank you so very much for your prayers for Cherry's 93 year-old father, Johnny Siebert! Click here to read our previous post, describing the difficult situation our father found himself in during the middle part of October.

He has had two doctor's appointments since our last update here. At this point, it does not look like Dad will have a colostomy done to help with his problems, but more time is needed to know this for sure. There are many factors that are leading to this decision. His age and ability to care for a colostomy are one factor, and also, the doctor wants to give more time to see if the problem will remedy itself. At this point, his incontinence continues. Thank you for praying for wisdom for the doctors, and also for us as family. We have been so blessed by the patient, compassionate care of his doctors, and his caregivers at the Health Center.

We also requested prayer for Dad, as this has been such a humbling and frustrating situation for him to be in. He has been struggling with peace and trust, and we are so grateful that there has been a bit of a turn-a-round in the past week and a half. He has been more calm and accepting of his situation, and has even started to participate in the physical and occupational therapy that is offered him there at Skyline's Health Center. 

Thank you to those who have been sending cards and letters for him - these things brighten up his days as he continues on in Skyline's Health Center. We have also been printing out emails that are sent to us for him. He especially is so encouraged by those from former missionary friends that he served with for much of his life with SEND International. (You may use his current address at Skyline as we pick up his mail for him, or you may use our address to send mail for him. You may also send emails for him to our email address, and we will print them out for him. )

We continue to make the 20-minute drive 3-4 times each week to help and encourage him, and are grateful to live close by. We are also on the phone with Cherry's three brothers often, and greatly appreciate their care and advice from a distance (two in the Portland area, and one just north of New York City). 

Please pray for continued peace for our father, for wisdom for the doctors, nurses, and caregivers, and also for us as family as decisions will be made in the next 30 days for the next step. His 90 contracted days at the Health Center will be up in mid-January, and a decision will need to be made as to where he will be staying after that (continuing on at the Health Center or returning to his independent living apartment). 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Family Thanksgiving

One of our smallest Family Thanksgiving gatherings in many years, but a very fun evening together with some of our family who live nearby! We loved it - so thankful for family! And we all are looking forward to our whole family (22 of us!) being home for Christmas!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Difficult Journey

Mid-October brought some big changes for Cherry's 93 year-old father. Within just a few days, he went from his independent living apartment at Skyline, to an overnight stay in the hospital, to Skyline's Health Center for treatment. 

We are thankful for the timing of things - just a few days after we returned from our trip to Colorado Springs, we found our father in great need of our help. His bowel troubles had led to complete incontinence; a very humbling situation to be in. We were so thankful that we were close by to help with each step. 

A biopsy during the first few days showed that there is no cancer. The doctor went ahead and prescribed five weeks of treatment under the care of nurses at the Health Center, to try to see if his functions will return. Dad's next doctor appointment will be on Dec. 2nd. Please pray for wisdom for the doctors, and also for my father, and us as family - that we will all know what the next step should be. Also, please pray for peace for Cherry's father - Johnny Siebert - as he struggles to accept this difficult situation that he is in.

We are grateful that we can be nearby to help, and we thank God for the strength and grace that He gives as we have been driving in every day, or every other day to help with details, and to be an encouragement to Dad. We do appreciate your prayers.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Birthday Getaway Trip to KC

This was the year for significant birthdays for both Gary and me. And as we had some vacation days left to use this year, Gary asked me where I'd like to go for my birthday the end of September. Such a treat to go on a three-night little getaway at the time of my birthday! We loved our stay at a beautiful VRBO rental in Kansas City ... thank you, honey!

Click here to go to my Pursuing Heart blog to see four more digital scrapbook pages capturing the memories of our stay in this historic neighborhood of KC.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A New School Year for Nine Grandkids!

Time is flying by, and this is a busy year for us as grandparents as we try to keep up with our grandkids! One little one, Eva (two years old) is at home yet ... and all the others are starting out a brand new school year. From three grandsons in Kindergarten up through a granddaughter starting out in college this year ... it will be fun to follow along with their activities and accomplishments. Four are in TX, and the other six grandkids are here in NE.

Blessed to be grandparents, and thankful for the blessing of grandkids.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Be Part of a Miracle

This article, written recently by Gary for a local newspaper, explains in a nutshell why we do what we do ... and explains what we all can be part of - a miracle!

Be Part of a Miracle (From The Enterprise - July 25, 2014)

We read in Mark 16:15, Jesus said to His followers ...

Go everywhere in the world,
and tell the Good News to everyone.

This command is termed "The Great Commission" because Jesus emphasizes this so clearly in each of the first four books of the New Testament. Therefore, since Jesus puts so much importance on this, one would think that we Christians would take it seriously. Yet, in actuality, sharing the Good News of what the eternal Son of God has done for us - entering our world as a man, living a sinless life, revealing His power and His love, giving up His life to pay the penalty of death for our transgressions, and then rising from the dead to conquer death for all mankind - is something most of us don't really do very often.

The Bible even gives us many promises of His presence and His help if we do get up the nerve to share. In fact, Isaiah 55:10-11 uses the comparison of sharing God's Word with a farmer sowing seeds for his crops to emphasize that when we share God's truth, it actually will sprout and grow. We have the promise from this passage that sharing will not be in vain, but will actually accomplish God's purpose in that persons life! Yet, because of it's supernatural aspect, this can be difficult for us to grasp. As a result, we may still shrug off sharing, thinking that it won't do any good, or that others won't listen to what we say anyway.

But this shouldn't dissuade us. In Mark 4:26-27 we read the story of how the farmer scatters seed, and the seed sprouts and grows, but even the farmer does not know how that actually happens.

 It's somewhat of a mystery that God just makes happen. 
Yet we know that all the farmers in this world 
still plant their seed every season. 

So, too, when we share the gospel, God is the one who makes it bear fruit. Therefore, it's not up to us; it's up to God. We can trust Him even though we don't understand it all. In fact, we should marvel that we can be part of the miracle that God can do in someone's life.

In 1973 a 2,000 year-old cache of date palm seeds was discovered on the mountain called Masada in Israel. In 2004, another researcher persuaded those holding this ancient cache of seeds to give him some seeds to try planting them. They gave him just three seeds. Out of those three, one of them actually grew! It actually sprouted and grew after over 2,000 years! (Israel My Glory, Article by Peter Colon, page 31, May/June 2014)

If a date palm seed can last 2,000 years and still sprout and grow, we should be able to believe that God can take a seed of truth that we share with someone, and make it grow at the proper time. Galatians 6:9 says, "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." And II Corinthians 9:10: "He will multiply your seed ... and increase the harvest of your righteousness."

Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) has an encouraging way to look at sharing God's Good News: "It's simply taking the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, leaving the results to God." In other words, anyone can share Christ.

It's up to God to take that seed of truth that we share
and cause it to sprout and grow in someone's life.

What could we do that would be more fulfilling than that?

(This is a devotional article, written by Gary, as published in The Enterprise, a weekly newspaper in Washington County.)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Siebert Visit (Part 2)

Continuing on with digital scrapbook pages - preserving memories of a five-day visit from our Siebert family ...

(Digital scrapbook supplies: First two pages - Page Template: Digital Scrapper Premier May 2014 Love, Mom by Carol Gillmour; Paper: Digital Scrapper Premier 2014 06 Outdoor Dad by Brandy Murry, Digital Scrapper Premier 2014 07 Liberty for All by Mommyish, Scrap Girls ABR_Creased'n'Crinkled. Last two pages - Page Template: Scrap Girls JSM_dD-pageGrids; Papers: Scrap Girls ABR_Creasedn'Crinkled, Digital Scrapper Premier 2014 08 WeekendatHome by Kate Hadfield.)

Siebert Visit (Part 1)

Preserving memories in digital scrapbook form of the wonderful visit we had with our Siebert family earlier this month ... thanking God for the very special five days He gave us together! The visit was especially significant as we could all spend time together with our 93 year-old father. We see him often, as he lives a short 20 minute drive from us - but this was the first time for him to see his three sons & their families since 2011, three years ago.

Click here to see more photos in Part 2 of our Siebert Family Visit ...

(Credits for digital scrapbooking supplies: Page Templates: Digital Scrapper Premier 2014 08; Paper: Digital Scrapper Premier 2014 07 LibertyforAll by Mommyish, Premier 2014 08 WeekendatHome by Kate Hadfield Designs.)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Five Day Visit from Our Siebert Family

We just spent five wonderful days together with our Siebert family. All three of Cherry's brothers traveled here - two from the west coast, and one from the east coast. Lee with his wife Cheryl, came from the Portland area. Steve with his wife Beverly, and twin daughters, Katie & Izzy, came from just north of New York City. And Loren came from Portland, where he has recently moved after the loss of his sweet wife, Margy, last summer.

Standing L to R: Gary, Loren, Cherry, Steve, Beverly, Cheryl, Lee; Seated: Our 93 year-old father.

It was a very memorable five days together, our first time to gather in three years. Though the brothers live on opposite coasts, we are blessed to live right in the middle, and also near our father ... so our home becomes the place for us to gather. 

Our father greatly appreciated having each of his four children together ... and we all missed our mother, who passed away nearly seven years ago.

L to R: Loren, Steve, our father Johnny Siebert, Cherry, Lee

It was also a very special time for cousins to be together - four of our six children, and Steve & Beverly's two daughters ... 

Standing L to R: Sara, Amy, Katie, Izzy, Carrie, Lance; Seated: their Grandpa.

And what fun for everyone to spend time with these six (of our ten) sweet grandkids!

L to R: Ali, Cole, Cruz, Jake, Levi, Eva

We were so very blessed by these five days together! Check back here in the days ahead, as we'll be sharing more photos in digital scrapbook form. So many memories to treasure, and so much to thank God for!

Cristy's Surgery Results

Our daughter, Cristy, heard the pathology report (after the removal of a cyst on one of her kidneys) five days after her July 28th surgery. We were at the airport at the time that we received her call from Dallas, waiting for the arrival of several of Cherry's family for a five day visit. We were stunned to receive the news from Cristy ... her cyst was cancerous.

Here is the news, as they shared it on their CaringBridge site:

"Unbelievably, my lesion was also cancerous. The same kind of cancer as Mark's ... renal cell carcinoma. There were even some aggressive areas which put it at a grade 3 (Mark's was grade 2). The good news is that the margins were clear, which means they got it all. ... My prognosis is the same as Mark's ... no other treatment is required because they got it all out, and the chances of it coming back are very low."

Our first reactions were ones of disbelief ... how can it be that both Mark and Cristy needed to have surgery to remove a cancerous tumor/cyst from one of their own kidneys, as they were being tested to be kidney donors for their own daughter, who has a rare kidney disease. Mark & Cristy have been told that people with certain types of kidney diseases are more prone to getting the type of kidney cancer that they both have. And as they are both carriers of Juvenile Nephronophthisis (JN), which they gave to Crystal, the doctors are interested in studying this possibility further as an explanation to this unusual, and unbelievable situation. 

We are all in shock, and at the same time, we are filled with thanks to God for His care in the discovery of this cancer in both Mark and Cristy. Discovery at very early state, so that it could be removed completely, with no chemo needed. Follow-up checkups will come every six months now. Please pray for both of them, for peace of mind, and for no re-occurrences.

Cristy's recovery is going well now, though it has had it's pain and trauma ... and one week later, she is mostly free from the surgical pain, as well as from bad headaches she was also experiencing. Please pray for complete healing in every way, and for an extra measure of God's peace and grace to our dear daughter and her family. They are so grateful for all those who are praying, and for all the care they are receiving from their many friends there in TX.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cristy's Surgery

Thanks to all who have been praying for our daughter, Cristy's, surgery on July 28. This was the surgery to remove a suspicious-looking cyst from one of her kidneys - this cyst was discovered when she was going through testing to see if she could be a kidney donor for her own daughter, Crystal. 

The surgery took place yesterday afternoon, July 28. Here is Mark's report on FaceBook late afternoon yesterday:

Quick update on Cristy: Surgery went well and the Dr is confident that he got all of the growth on her kidney. It took longer than expected as the cyst went a little deeper into the kidney than the Dr realized. So he had to make a 2nd cut to be sure he got it all in case it turns out to be malignant. We should know by the end of the week whether it was malignant or benign. She is recovering and resting now. We hope to go home tomorrow. Thank you all for your prayers, for help with meals and for encouraging notes/comments. We appreciate all of you and your concern for Cristy. -Mark

Of course, we wish so much that we could be there in Dallas at this time. And though we offered to go and desire to be there with our TX family, Mark & Cristy felt that they would be covered well with the care that they receive from their many friends there, including their very caring church family. Thankfully, we were able to see them in TX in early June, and also in mid-July when they came up here for a visit. And though we desire to be there now again, we realize this is probably best, especially as my (Cherry's) three brothers and their families will be coming to our home in just a few days for a visit, from the east and west coasts.

But, as you can imagine, our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with them constantly these days. And we are so thankful to Mark for his texts, phone calls, and photos that he is sending to us ... before and after surgery, and as she was recovering last night. And we're thankful for many who are praying ...

This quote from Streams in the Desert this morning was a good reminder - to keep our eyes on God, and keep His perspective as we go through trials. So thankful for the trust He is giving our dear family in TX, and for His grace and strength through trials. For them, and also for us as parents and grandparents.
"Our trials are great opportunities, but all too often we simply see them as large obstacles. If only we would recognize every difficult situation as something God has chosen to prove His love to us, each obstacle would then become a place of shelter and rest, and a demonstration to others of His inexpressible power."
This is our prayer for Cristy, for Mark, and their children ... and this is our prayer for ourselves, and for all who know them.

We're hoping to get another update this morning soon, and may add more to this post - so feel free to check back. Also, we anticipate talking to Cristy soon, as well ... the morphine and other meds kept us from being able to communicate with her last night.

Later (9:15 am)  ... just heard from Cristy, and also here is an update that Mark posted on CaringBridge:

Since surgery, her recovery has gone as expected except that she has had some trouble with nausea and headache.  The nurses have assured us that these are typical reactions to the surgery, the anesthesia and some of the pain meds she has been on.  They are giving her Zofran for the nausea and finally this morning it seems to be helping.  The pain from the surgery and the headache seem to be under control this morning as well.  We are hoping that she will feel well enough to keep some food down this morning.  They had her up walking at 4:00am today and she seemed to handle that ok, so if all continues to go as planned, we will be home some time this afternoon.  Thank you so much for your prayers!

You are invited to click here for more updates as Cristy recovers - from Mark & Cristy on Crystal's CaringBridge site.

Jake & Cole

Sharing photos of our two-night sleepover with two grandsons here while Sara & Sean were able to take a four-night little vacation getaway at the end of one of Sean's business trips to beautiful Oregon. They are such sweet, good little boys - and have so much fun together! 

(Credit for digital scrapbook supplies: Page Template: Sweet Shoppe - mcato-simplebeauty; Paper: Digital Scrapper July 2014 Premier, Mommyish-Liberty for All.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Family Celebration for Gary's 70th Bday

This was the big year for celebrating #70 for Gary!! We celebrated as a couple on his actual birthday, June 23. It was a very memorable day spent together at beautiful, restful Willow Lake - just perfect.

And then, over the weekend of July 12-13 we were blessed with a very special weekend when our kids and grandkids honored him and celebrated his bday. We were so touched by their love, and these many photos (on seven digital scrapbook pages) are our attempt to capture the memories.

(Credit for digital scrapbook supplies: Page Templates: Digital Scrapper July 2014 Premier; Paper: Digital Scrapper June 2013 Premier, We are Family by Dianne Rigdon / Digital Scrapper June 2014 Premier, Outdoor Dad by Scrap Girls.)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Early July Update

Summer is going by quickly, isn't it? When the 4th of July comes around, it seems that summer is at it's peak ... and from then on, we're heading for the season of school starting up, and for us, a new year of ministry through Cru Omaha. But there are still quite a few weeks of summer left, so we won't hurry things too much! 

Update on Kidney Transplant Journey

So many of you are praying for our granddaughter, Crystal, as she awaits her kidney transplant. And also, many of you are praying for our daughter, Cristy (Crystal's mother), as she will be going through surgery to remove a cyst that was discovered on one of her own kidneys as she was being tested to be a donor for Crystal. Click here for some background info about this. Cristy's repeat MRI the end of May showed that there have been some changes in the cyst, and there is now a 50/50 chance that it may be cancerous. The surgery to remove the cyst is scheduled for July 28. 

We appreciate your prayers for a safe and successful surgery for Cristy, that the cyst would be benign if that would be God's will, and for a complete and restful recovery for her. And please pray for our dear TX family, as they continue on in this journey of kidney transplant for Crystal. Especially for Crystal as she continues to experience continued fatigue and nausea as a result of kidney failure. Her next testing of kidney function levels is scheduled for September. The beginning steps have also been started to test another dear family member who has offered to be a donor. (There have been other very generous offers - from family, and also from friends ... and the procedure for kidney transplant is to proceed with only one person at a time.) 

Early July Happenings

We enjoyed a quiet day at home celebrating the 4th - one of the blessings of "empty nest". We love times with family, and we also love times, just the two of us. The rest of the summer holds some very special family get-togethers, which we are greatly looking forward to!

Also in early July, one of our sweet granddaughter's, Ali, turned seven years old! We're thankful she got well from a bout with strep just in time for her 7th birthday celebration!

A digital scrapbook page from early July.

Monday, June 30, 2014

A Very Significant Day - Gary Turning 70!

We could hardly believe the day had come - but it did ... and now, Gary is 70! His wish was to spend it together, just the two of us, relaxing by a lake, one of our favorite things to do! Our family celebration will come later, in July - so this was the perfect way to celebrate on his actual birthday. These photos (in digital scrapbook form) capture some of our memories of our day together ... so very thankful for my sweet hubby!

Click here to go to my Pursuing Heart blog to view another scrapbook page of our special day at Willow Lake ...

(Credit for digital scrapbook supplies: Page Template: DS-tem08-12x12-2a; Paper: Digital Scrapper June 2014 Premier,  Scrap Girls ABR_CreasedNCrinkled.)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Trip to Texas - Abigail's Graduation Day

The big day was June 7! Our oldest grandchild is now a high school graduate! It was a very special day as we celebrated Abigail! She was blessed to graduate with the great privilege of being one of the top eight students in her class of 300+, also giving her the great honor of being a Birmingham Scholar. She was also given the honor and privilege of giving the opening prayer during the ceremonies. 

We are grateful for the blessing of being there in TX to be part of the celebrations, and we thank God for Abigail's accomplishments, and mostly, for her heart to follow and honor Him with her life. We love you, Abigail!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Trip to Texas - Abigail's Senior Recital & Reception

The time had come for our oldest granddaughter's graduation from high school (where have all the years gone?) ... and we were very privileged to make a trip to Texas to be there for the festivities! The first weekend held a number of very special events: a Spring Recital on Friday night where Abigail, Crystal, and Luke all played -  a special treat Cristy planned for Abigail on Saturday, an Afternoon Tea at a hotel in Dallas - and the next day on Sunday afternoon, Abigail's Senior Recital and Reception. So very blessed to be there to help celebrate!

(Credit for Digital Scrapbook supplies: First Page - Page Template: Scrap Girls - ABR_SSLOAlb-Series 5; Paper: SP Seasonal Sampler. Second Page - Page Template: Scrap Girls - ABR_SSLOAlb-Series 5; Paper: Sweet Shoppe - for auld lang syne. Third Page - Page Template: Scrap Girls - ABR_SSLOAlb_Series 5; Paper: Shabby Princess-Spring Breeze. Fourth Page - Page Template: Scrap Girls - ABR_SSLOAlb-Series 5; Paper: Sweet Shoppe - for auld lang syne. And credit for a few of the photos - our daughter, Cristy, in TX)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Celebrating Crystal - and Kidney Update

Today is a very special day down in TX, and we'll take this opportunity to also share an update on our granddaughter, Crystal! She turns "sweet sixteen" today, and there couldn't be a sweeter sixteen year-old! Even with all the daily affects of kidney failure, Crystal continues to be the sweet, cheerful, caring person that she is. We thank God for the sweet fragrance of His Love that she spreads to all those around her.

Crystal recently received a great honor from her high school in Wylie, TX. At the Academic Awards Ceremony earlier this month, her name was called to receive a plaque for the final award of the evening ... the Assistant Principal's Award. This award was given to two students in each grade, chosen by the administrative team for excelling in academics, service, character, and hard work. The following words were announced as Crystal received her award: "Crystal Enns is a delightfully personable student, who gets along with all of her peers despite her often reserved demeanor. She is always punctual to class and very polite. She is an excellent role model and consistently displays a diligent work ethic and she self advocates in a respectful manner. She puts others before herself and quietly does what she is expected to do. She is a joy to have in class."

Especially meaningful for Crystal, and also her parents ... as Crystal suffers each day from nausea and general fatigue, often throughout the school day. We praise God for the strength and grace He is giving her, even as she endures kidney failure. And we thank Him for honoring her with this very special award!

An Update on Crystal's Kidney Disease

Kidney Function Levels ...

Though her kidney function levels have been as low as 21%, we were surprised when a recent, more accurate type of testing revealed her kidney function has gone back up to 34%. (Transplant most often takes place when the kidney function levels go down to 20% or below.) It is normal for the levels to fluctuate as the kidneys continue to decline, but this was definitely a surprise to have them back up at 34%, giving more time before transplant. As family and friends we have been praying for God to keep her stable for several reasons ... until a donor is firmly in place ... and also, until after all the celebration and festivities of her older sister, Abigail's, graduation from high school the first part of June. We are praising God for this blessing!

At the same time as we celebrate this answer to prayer, we ask for your prayers for Crystal as she continues to not feel well, and experiences nausea, and general fatigue daily. Low kidney function affects so many things as the toxins build up in the body - things that we just take for granted in a healthy body.

Related Eye Disease ...

As many of you may remember, Crystal also has the related eye disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa - Senior Loken Syndrome, which 10% of those with her type of kidney disease also have. This eye disease involves "the slow degeneration of her retina which usually causes night blindness first as the peripheral vision slowly closes down, most likely to complete blindness, although sometimes a very small bit of central vision remains, as though looking through a straw." (From Crystal's CaringBridge site)

Crystal had another eye exam the beginning of this month, and we are praising God that peripheral vision loss since her last test a year ago, was small! It has been the prayer of her family and all of us that her loss would be very slow-progressing, so this was great news! Please pray for her vision loss to continue to be slow progressing.

Donor Update ...

Many of you remember, also, that our daughter, Cristy (Crystal's mother), was tested six months ago to be the kidney donor for her daughter. A small cyst was discovered on one of Cristy's kidneys ... this led to their testing of Mark (Crystal's father). We were all dismayed when a suspicious lump was discovered on one of Mark's kidneys ... yet, we praise God for this discovery. Mark underwent surgery to have the lump removed, and it was, in fact, cancerous. How we thank God for this discovery, which led to the removal of the lump in very early stage, with no need for any chemo or treatments - only periodic checkups in the future.

The next step in testing for a donor is for Cristy to have a repeat MRI ... and this will take place tomorrow, May 23. There needed to be a six-month wait to see if there is any growth in the cyst. The doctors do not suspect that there will be any concern related to her cyst, and they expect that Cristy will be able to be the donor. We are praying that this will be the case! If there is any concern in Cristy being the donor after the MRI results are in the beginning of June, then the transplant team will continue with the testing of several other family members who have offered to be the donor.

Thank you so very much for your prayers for Crystal and all her family! You are invited to read their detailed updates on their CaringBridge site - click here. They are held up by the prayers of family and friends who care, and are filled with thanks to God for carrying them through this difficult journey. 

(Thank you to our family in TX for both photos of Crystal!)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

April Freezer Meal Day

A very fun - and also productive thing that we do several times a year is to hold a Freezer Meal Day with our daughters who live nearby. What a blessing to spend that time together, and also to have meals to put in our freezers!

Here are the two digital scrapbook pages that I created of our day together the end of April, and also ... you can click here to read more details on my Pursuing Heart blog.

Monday, May 12, 2014

April Memories

April held some special days for our family - starting out with a fun Star War's birthday party for our twin grandsons, Jake & Cole. They turned five years old on April 2nd - such a fun party put on by Sara & Sean for their boys!
Then mid-month we took care of Cruz (5 years) and Eva (2 years) for four nights while Carrie & Tyler were blessed with a little getaway to San Diego. Such a fun time with unusually warm weather - lots of time outdoors, including a soccer game for Cruz!
Also in mid-month, there was a significant birthday in our family, with our oldest granddaughter turning 18! The photo to the left is from 18 years ago when Cristy gave birth to her and Mark's first child ... and the photo on the right is of Abigail now. How fast the time goes by! We missed seeing Abigail on this significant birthday, but plan to travel down to TX to see her graduate from high school the first part of June!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Month

The weeks leading up to Easter Sunday are always a good time to focus more deeply on Jesus and His great sacrifice for us. It was especially meaningful for me this year to read through an amazing little book by John Piper ... Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die. The writings captured my heart, and led to the writing of a number of blog posts on my Pursuing Heart blog. Also, I created a digital scrapbook page to help preserve the memory of those weeks ... so thankful and in awe of all that God provided for us in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Click here to read a collection of my posts inspired by John Piper's book ...

Monday, March 31, 2014

March Family Birthdays

It's always fun to celebrate family birthdays, and in March we had three of them! A big one, with son-in-law Joe turning the big 4-0!! And also two birthdays in Carrie & Tyler's family - Tyler's 31st birthday, and also sweet little Eva's 2nd birthday! 
Amy did great planning a surprise party for Joe's big "40" day!
And a fun time celebrating sweet Eva's 2nd birthday - a special "pink party"!

Kidney Transplant Update - Thankful

Sharing recent kidney transplant news for our friends and family who are praying for our granddaughter, Crystal ...

In our last update on March 14 (click here), we shared that Crystal's kidney function level had dropped to 21.5%, which was concerning as a donor is not in place yet. Well, just a short time later, we found out that her levels went back up again! This gives more time for a donor to be in place - we are grateful!

Here is a portion of a CaringBridge update that our daughter, Cristy, shared on March 20:

"Last week we asked for bold prayers that Crystal's kidney function would stabilize.  She had dropped from 25% to 21.5% in 5 weeks, which was alarming because we will not know if I can donate until my MRI in May.  She will need dialysis when she drops below 15%, so I was beginning to fear we would be to that point before we have a confirmed donor.  And then...what if we find out in May that I can't donate and donor testing must start over?  This is where we just have to lay our burdens at the cross and pray for Him to be strong in our weakness and tendency to worry. 
Thank you for lifting up our dear girl in prayer!!!  Dr. Quan called today with the results of her latest labs, and she is back up to 25%!!  He feels that the lower labs reflected the fact that she was sick with strep when they were drawn.  I can't tell you how relieved we are.  While we know things will inevitably get worse before they get better, this really gives us the breathing room that we needed.  Thank you, thank you Jesus!"
We do appreciate your continued prayers for Crystal - thank you! And you are welcome to read more detailed updates on Crystal's CaringBridge site - click here.

Our News & Prayer Update - March 2014

March Greetings!

Isn't it wonderful to be entering into some spring-like weather! It has been a cold winter here in Nebraska, and we are ready for spring!
Thank you for praying for our requests in our last mailing! Here are the answers to your prayers - all our thanks and praise to God!
Successful Surgery! Mark's (our son-in-law) surgery to remove a lump on his kidney (discovered when he was being tested to be a kidney donor for his daughter) was successful! It was cancerous (renal cell carcinoma) but we are so grateful it was caught in very early stage. It was all removed, with no signs of having spread, and no chemo or radiation will be needed. The doctors will recheck it periodically, but are quite confident that it was all taken care of. Thank You, Lord! Visit our family/ministry blog for more details, and for future updates - click here.
Cru Central High - First Meeting on Campus! It was a very successful night on Thurs., Feb. 27! The students loved it, there were new students who came, and the whole night was amazing (games, food, and a special guest speaker from Belarus). See photo (above left) and click here for more photos on our Cru Omaha blog!
Cru Fort Calhoun - Freshmen Outreach! Our student leaders came up with the idea, and planned a special night for Mon., March 10, where they focused primarily on inviting new Freshmen students. It was a great night - beautiful weather (in the 70's!), games outdoors, new students in attendance, a few student leaders shared their stories of coming to know Christ, and Josh, our college volunteer shared the Gospel. See photo (above right), and click here to see more!

Please join with us in praying for ...

Cru Accelere - Pray for a way for these students to be discipled one-on-one or in small groups, in addition to the weekly meetings we hold with them during their school day.
Summer Opportunities for Students - Please pray for a number of our students to be able to attend our regional summer conference (Getaway) in Estes Park in June. Also pray for plans beginning to form for our Summer Venture program, where we hold area gatherings for students from our various campuses.
Our Granddaughter, Crystal - Her kidney function continues to decline; her most recent testing revealed that she is now around 21.5% kidney function. She is able to continue on with her classes and activities, though experiencing increasing side effects and general fatigue. Please pray for her as she awaits kidney transplant, which will take place when she goes below 20% and when a donor is in place. Visit our family/ministry blog ( for more details and for periodic updates.
Our Current Focus on Raising Funds - Please pray for us as we are in another season of needing to raise additional funds for our personal Cru account (for our salary and ministry expenses). As with all staff, we are responsible to raise these funds. Please let us know of others who have a passion for reaching high school students, and who might be interested in coming on our team with monthly, quarterly, or annual gifts. Feel free to forward this email on to them, or reply to us with their names.
We would love to be praying for you - let us know how we can pray. Your replies to this email come directly to us, and we would be honored to hear from you. Thank you for being a part of Cru Omaha, and for your prayers for this ministry, and also for our family.

Gary & Cherry
Gary & Cherry Warrick
Cru Omaha
Home/Office 402 468-5345 / Cell 402 659-3340 /
Click here to donate to our staff account.
Copyright © 2014 Gary & Cherry Warrick, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because of your interest in Cru Omaha (formerly Student Venture NE/IA).
Our mailing address is:
Gary & Cherry Warrick (Cru Omaha)
PO Box 184
Fort Calhoun, NE 68023
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Friday, March 14, 2014

Following Step-by-Step

Life is certainly filled with the unexpected; journeys that we never dreamed we would need to travel. What would we do without God, our loving Father, who walks along with us, and who gently and lovingly carries us through the most difficult times? We are in need of Him, every day.

A year ago this month our dear granddaughter, Crystal, was diagnosed with a rare genetic kidney disease. (Click here to read more details.) Since then she and her parents and siblings, along with all of us as family, have been following God through this unknown journey, step-by-step, many times not having any idea what the next turn would reveal. 

One of the turns in the road which took us so completely by surprise (after the initial diagnosis), when we were not sure we could even handle this journey, was when we found out that Crystal also has the eye disease that is sometimes associated with this kidney disease. And then again, we were completely taken off guard when the doctors discovered that Mark (Crystal's father and our son-in-law) had a cancerous lump on his kidney (discovered when he was being tested to be a donor for his daughter). This lump was successfully removed at the end of February. (Click here and here to read more details.) The pathology report shows that it was, in fact, cancer (renal cell carcinoma), but it was caught in early stages, and was all removed, with no need for chemo or radiation. Thank You, Lord!

And now ... one year after the initial diagnosis, we are continuing on this journey, wondering what lies around the next corner. Wondering when Crystal will be at the point where they will proceed with the kidney transplant. Typically, the doctors will proceed with transplant when kidney function goes below 20% (though it can go even lower, with the patient put on dialysis when it reaches about 15%). And, of course, a transplant cannot be done until a donor is in place.

As a result of Crystal's most recent lab test, the doctor is estimating that her kidney function is currently around 21.5%, down from 25% just five weeks ago. He is planning to retest to be accurate, and will have the results a week from now. The doc is still saying that she may be able to wait until this summer for transplant, which is now just a few months away.

Please pray for a donor to be in place soon. The doctors are now saying that our daughter Cristy (Crystal's mother) may be able to donate after all. They plan to do another MRI the end of April on Cristy's kidney to see if the cyst they had found earlier shows any sign of concern. They are quite confident that there is no concern but needed to wait a number of months to retest it. (We're grateful for several other family members who have offered to be tested if it does not work out for Cristy to be the donor.)
We now know that this delay in determining if Cristy can be the donor was by the providence of God, as it led the doctors to proceed with testing Mark as a donor ... which led to the discovery of his cancer, which was removed by surgery last month. 
So we continue on this journey - Crystal struggles with side-effects each day, though she never complains. She continues on with her sophomore classes and activities. Please pray for strength and endurance for Crystal. As her levels decline, the side effects increase. We thank God for the peace and trust she is experiencing, in the midst of this very difficult journey. We're so grateful to all who are praying for her ... 

We will continue to post updates here periodically, and you are also invited to read Cristy's updates on Crystal's CaringBridge site ... click here. Thank you for praying for our dear granddaughter and her family!

(We will be traveling to TX at the time of transplant to care for our family for several weeks - please also pray for us as we plan for this time away. And for strength and peace for us, as well. We are in need of His grace and mercy, each day.)