Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Long Family,

I hope this letter finds each of you and your family under God’s gracious blessing and in true appreciation of this special time of year. I wanted to take this opportunity to express just how much you mean to me and my family.
The Longs have had an incredible year. There is never a dull moment in our home between three very active, ambitious, and healthy (PRAISE GOD) children under the age of six! As I reflect back over the last year, I am amazed at how much they grow and change in so many ways that a picture will not show. Their questions, personalities, desires, fears, concerns, and joy are always changing and are always an easy way for mom and dad to stay grounded in a world that moves faster than we often desire!
Sarah Elizabeth is now six years old and in the first grade. She is reading everything, including anything mom and dad spell to each other which is forcing us to come up with a new code to communicate – any suggestions welcomed! Sarah Elizabeth is now two years post chemo and is doing fantastic! She visits the clinic every three months for labs and a check up. She is maturing so quickly and is fully aware of how God healed her and gave her the strength to beat cancer. She loves school and loves to read! Sarah Elizabeth enjoys ballet, jazz, and has started tennis lessons. Her love for art has continued to blossom. I am so pleased with what a nurturing, caring big sister she has become. Sarah Elizabeth asked Jesus into her heart this summer and is really growing in her understanding of God and His love!
Stuart is now four years old and is attending Pre K every day. This has been a year of Stuart coming out of his shell. His personality has really exploded over the last year and is very evident in the picture on the Christmas card. Stuart also loves school, loves his classmates, and has developed a strong sense of independence and personality… (wonder who he inherited that from?) Stuart fell in love with sports – all sports this year. I was able to enjoy several nine hole rounds with my little caddie, cart driver. Swimming with no floaties, jumping off the diving board fearlessly, and the removal of bike training wheels were all firsts this summer. This fall I coached Stuart’s first soccer team (which meant his first uniform – real cool)! Stuart had a blast and does not understand why the season ended. Stuart is trapped between a big and little sister but remains a strong, fearless brother who cares deeply for the girls.
Catherine is now eighteen months old. If you took every strong personality trait from Sarah Elizabeth and Stuart and multiplied it ten times over… you would be close to describing Catherine. She seems to be a constantly moving blur of energy and excitement. She is the center of attention and lets no one or nothing get in her way. Catherine loves being outside, loves chasing after the big kids, loves to approach strangers with a book. She shows no fear or reservation and naturally has an appreciation of life that only someone who went through so much at such an early age can demonstrate. Amanda and I are constantly reminded of this as we change diapers and get a glimpse of the scar that is all that is left of the that early chapter in Catherine’s life. She has a clean bill of health and is becoming a beautiful little girl.
Trip (our Jack Russell Terrier) is now ten years old. He has lost the spotlight to the kids but is an ever ready companion for an evening on the sofa or a quick toss of the tennis ball outside. Trip had a few brushes with authority over the past year with some barking fits that attracted the HOA and Sheriff’s Department. He takes every poke in the eye, tail pull, and abuse the kids dish out in stride. His hair is turning gray and belly is growing… (Trip, not me!)
Amanda and I are blessed. We know exactly how lucky we are to have each other and share a family that is committed to serving our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We will celebrate our ten year anniversary this year. As I look back over the last ten years I feel so lucky to have Amanda at my side. And, I know just how special the kids are to have a mother who loves them so much. Each night before bed, I make the rounds and check on each of the kids as they sleep. They look so peaceful, innocent, and beautiful in their father’s eyes. I wonder what they are dreaming about, what the next day holds for them, and what I can do make it better for them. It’s amazing to think that our Heavenly father holds the same thoughts for me and my family! I pray you have a year committed to enjoying that same love. Thanks for your friendship and what for what you mean to me and my family! I wish you the very best this Christmas Season and throughout next year!

In God’s Love,

Chad Long

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Catherine seems to be doing a LOT better! Thanks for your prayers. Amanda and kids made it safely to Mississippi and will return on Sunday!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Prayer Request & PRAISE

Catherine awoke early Saturday morning with fever... which quickly changed all the Easter plans... So, we took her to the doctor on Saturday afternoon where it was determine dthat this was most likely a viral infection of some sort that should pass in time... However, her fever continued to rise and spike - reaching 105.6 about 3am Sunday night/Monday morning. We quickly put her in a tepid bath and treated with Tylenol until it came down to a safer 103...
Monday morning started out fine until she spiked again at 105.5! A follow up visit to the doctor revealed a double ear infection! We hope/pray that was the culprit and that the antibiotic will quickly heal and eliminate these SCARY fever spikes! Amanda had planned to make the Mississippi trip with Kristin and the Moyer kids today but delyed it untiul Tuesday - IF Catherine makes it through the night without any complications. The doctor did run bloodwork on Catherine and other than a slightly elevated WBC (hopefully b/c of ear infections) everything looked normal. SO, please pray for quick healing for Catherine and a safe trip to/from MS for Amanda, Kristinm and all 5 kids!

On a side note with a big smile as I type.... four years ago on Saturday was the diagnosis of Sarah Elizabeth's leukemia.... four years later she is doing so well! And, four years to the day... at a Saturday night church service Sarah Elizabeth has made the decision to ask Jesus into her heart! Wow, how great is our God! Talk about irony.... His saving grace is incredible! Amanda stayed home with Catherine and I took Sarah Elizabeth and Stuart. Sarah Elizabeth had a special service with all of the children, so I left her there and went to worship. It was standing room only so as the invitation began, I quickly picked Stuart up at the nursery and snuck into the back of the children's program. Stuart and I waited and watched the last few minutes of the service watching big sis up front. When the "heads bowed all eyes to yourself raise your hand if you just asked Jesus into your heart.." question was asked - up popped my little girls hand. "Mr. Bill" instructed the kids to speak to their parents about any decisions made so I never brought up the fact that I (Dad) ignored the eyes closed command. As soon as we got to the car - the questions, excitement started pouring out! We have prayed to Jesus to give her little life to God, recognizing that her salvation is through Jesus sacrifice for our sin. She reminds me daily that we need to talk to Mr Bill now... and I am excited that she is ready to start maturing her faith in God's time.

God bless.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Still here..

We're still here - just busy, busy, busy. Sarah Elizabeth is playing soccer (shown above with her good friend, Addi). Stuart is growing and going 90-0... he is about to see the training wheels come off his bike. Catherine is doing so well, climbing up - crawling everywhere - and now a full head of hair! We will update soon with more pics and details!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Wow, it has been another incredible year for the Long Family! As I sit down to type this letter, I realize just how rare it has been for me to actually have the opportunity to ‘be still’ and reflect over the last year. Perhaps the greatest message God seemed to teach me through the course of Sarah Elizabeth’s treatment was to “live in the present – making the most of each moment!” So, to step back and see how many times He has carried my family through the moments (good and bad) is overwhelming.

Our year was marked with so many “moments.” On Valentine’s Day Amanda and I traveled to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital where at twenty weeks pregnant the doctors diagnosed a mass in utero as Perinatal Neuroblastoma – another form of cancer in our unborn child. The next 18 weeks were full of anxious moments in weekly heart echoes, ultrasounds, and waiting rooms with nervous anticipation. In May, the moment arrived to travel back to Cincinnati for delivery and to say good bye to Sarah Elizabeth and Stuart for a few weeks. On May 19, Martha “Catherine” was born and instantly our moments of joy were mixed fear of the diagnosis and treatment as we spent countless hours in the NICU. Two weeks after her birth, the surgeons performed surgery to remove the mass. The delicate surgery revealed the mass was not cancer – simply a benign mass. I can still remember the smiles on the doctors face as they said, “this is better than best case scenario!” It is amazing for me to realize that God was in control and fully aware of each moment. Catherine is now seven months old. She is so beautiful, healthy, vibrant, and seems to light up the room with her smile.

Sarah Elizabeth enjoyed many special moments over the year. Perhaps the two biggest milestones were the removal of her port in the early spring and the one year post chemo anniversary celebrated in November. She is growing up so fast. There were so many “first” moments – first day of Kindergarten, first ballet recital, first soccer game, losing the first tooth, first time to read a book, first sleepover… She is a wonderful big sister to Stuart and Catherine and deeply cares for them.

Stuart has realized that he and I are the only boys in the house. He longs for moments of time together with dad. Words cannot express just how much I treasure those moments. He is now three years old and the adventurous, dare devil, active, rebellious side of his personality is having its moments. Stuart has also been a great big brother to his little sister and (often to a fault) cannot keep his hand off of her.

Amanda and I are the proud parents of three healthy, wonderful children (all under the age of five) WOW! In our short eight years of marriage God has blessed us with so many moments together that have brought joy, fear, doubt, excitement, and love. But, most of all - these moments have brought us closer – closer to each other and the realization that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is with us in every moment!

May you and your family enjoy a wonderful Christmas and blessed 2009 – full of moments where God reveals His love and joy!

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Chad, Amanda, Sarah Elizabeth, Stuart, and Catherine Long

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Family Pictures

A great slideshow is available to see - www.realitiesbyjill.com/long

Monday, November 24, 2008

Catherine is almost sitting up!

Curiuos George at The Health Adventure!

Silly Stuart Sliding down the tongue

Sweet Sisters