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Friday, August 24, 2012

COMMENTS....

For the past 6 months, I have in general, not responded to comments.  I guess I have was so busy with taking care of Andrew, too tired or I wasn't sure if the comments would automatically go to your email.
Anyway, I am so grateful for all the comments and how these comments encouraged me, affirmed me and spurred not only me, but for my family. 

Andrew's Army!
The above picture was taken right before Andrew passed away.  The picture is of our family holding onto Andrew, but I feel like there were thousands of hands on Andrew's hand.  This journey was a group effort by Andrew's Army.  For all those who have read this blog, commented, prayed, you are all part of our family: Andrew's Army.  I am reminded of a verse in the Bible of your support and being part of our community:


Romans 12:9-10
Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.


I also want to apologize if you haven't gotten thank you cards to all who have sent cards and donations.  I hope you all understand the delay.  Reading the cards you all have sent has been a very emotional experience.  It has been so encouraging reading about Andrew and what he meant to you all and on the other hand saddening as it has reminded us of our dearly departed son.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you.  Thinking of all of you who have carried us in these trying times.

I thank my God, every time I remember you.
Philippians 1:3

I will updating soon on some wonderful happenings this past week.  Happy weekend.

xoxoxo,
Joe
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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Round and Round....


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MY MIND IS GOING A MILLION DIFFERENT WAYS!

Yesterday was a hard day.  I went with Emily to Hinsdale Central to get her i.d. and walk around her schedule.  Along the way, I sought out and ran into many of Andrew's old teachers.  Remember y' all this was suppose to be Andrew's senior year and the year he would have watched over his "little" sister.  Well, Emily conveniently decided to walk around with her friend while I got to speak to Andrew's teachers.  Convenient in that Emily doesn't like it when I get emotional in front of her.   Andrew's teachers spoke so fondly of Andrew and his great character and smile.  The teacher I really wanted to see was Kelly, Andrew's freshman year geometry teacher and turns out she is Emily's teacher this year.  I have known Kelly being a Christian.  She didn't have to tell me at first, I just sensed something.  I sought her out knowing the common bond we had in Christ.  It turned out we were ready to go home, but the pouring rain made us wait for a bit and in turn I looked for Kelly and I found her.  She later wrote an email that made me cry and grateful for the impact God made through my wonderful son:



Hi Joe –

Thank you so much for stopping in today to say hello.  It was good to see you and so nice to meet Emily. 
I have and will continue to pray for your family, for and God’s peace to overwhelm your hearts, and for sweet memories to enter into the hole that remains.
Andrew has been a tremendous witness to the King we serve.  I am so proud of Andrew, and so grateful to God for how he has and continues to use your incredible family for His glory.  It’s a beautiful thing here at school to hear all of the teachers talking about Andrew, as well as your blog, and to know the light that you have shared with those that do not know Christ.   I know that Andrew is laughing on glory’s side, waiting to see you each again.

I will be praying for both your daughters as they embark on this new school year, with new adventures and new memories. 
I will remember Andrew fondly, and feel blessed to be a part of another Park family members life.   Emily will be in good hands here at Central.

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help as Emily adjusts to high school.

See you soon,

Kelly


So, I am on a roller coaster ride of emotions.  On one hand the difficulty of seeing Andrew's teachers and school where he would have been a senior to the joy and thankfulness of hearing the impact he made.  On top of that, I am in the library at Trinity reading an article for a  class that starts tonight.  I just went to the bathroom and looked into the mirror and asked if I can do this.  I keep on seeing Andrew jumping up and down and saying, "Daddy, you can do it!".  So all I can do is, pray for God's grace to get me through this night.  I guess it has already, I just found out from my advisor the course I am taking is by a professor who lost his child when the child was......17!  God's will?!?  I think so.  God is good, even though I don't feel like jumping up and down.

Please continue to pray for me, Jennifer and the girls.  Emily starts her 1st year of high school tomorrow and Bry starts 5th grade the day after.  Jennifer Chung Park and I had a good discussion last night on where God is leading us and I pray you all can pray for wisdom and discernment for the Park Family's future.

By the way, we cleared Andrew's room out in two emotionally filled days.  There were so much wailing, tears and sobs!  One of the toughest things to get rid of was Andrew's boxers.  Andrew would roam around in one of "tons" of funny boxers all the time at the hospital or at home.  We donated most of his clothes, but it was the boxers where Jennifer and I lost it and I just started shouting, "NO!  NO!  NO!". We noticed how many "cancer" related t-shirts he collected over the past few years and Jennifer and I decided to make a quilt out of them.  If you know anyone who would is good at sewing/quilt making who may want to take this task on, please us know.  We got through the last of his stuff and that was that.  Some of you may be worried we rushed things, but actually the timing was right.  Some of you may know my cousin Robin, who spoke at the Celebration Service, is setting up a new church in the city and he needed a place to stay.  Andrew loved Uncle Robin and how Robin would play x box and goto shell with him whenever he wanted.  In fact Robin was in town in April to spend time with Andrew and that was the last real time Andrew had fun and was somewhat healthy before his transplant and ultimate death.  Thank you Robin.  Anyway, the timing couldn't have been more perfect.  I needed to physically do something to start moving forward and Robin needed a room.  I can totally hear and see Andrew so excited his room is being used for his beloved Uncle Robin who is starting a church so others may possibly experience the love of Jesus Christ and ultimately the joy of being in heaven in eternal joy one day!  Thank you Lord!  Thank you Andrew!  Andrew giving again.  Remember, for those who attended Andrew's celebration service, "This Little Light of Mine".
LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE!





So as I wrap things up to read the class article, I try to cling onto the a old trusted verse:

Philippians 4:6-7

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Xoxo,
Joe

Friday, August 10, 2012

GRIEVING BUT STILL AROUND BY THE GRACE OF GOD...

It has been quite some time since I blogged last.  I have had no desire to blog until now and even now, it's not easy. In fact, I haven't blogged since the reminders for the Celebration service which was absolutely beautiful and touching. I will try to upload the slide show and other portions of the moving tribute to Andrew.   Just looking at the home page of this blog is painful, looking at Andrew's beautiful face.  PLEASE FORGIVE ME FOR NOT WRITING THANK YOU CARDS FOR THOSE THAT SENT BEAUTIFUL CARDS OF SUPPORT AND SYMPATHY AND DONATIONS! I PROMISE TO SEND THOSE OUT SOON.  I HOPE YOU UNDERSTAND, IT JUST HAS BEEN HARD TO DO ANYTHING.

Jennifer and I took a vacation to Jamaica alone a week after the celebration service to recoup and get away, all provided by my wonderful brother Albert and sister-in-law Jennifer, while Bry was in Virginia with the Lee's and the Lippicott's.  We are so thankful Bry was able to spend such valuable time with her loving Aunts, Uncles and cousins.  Emily was and has been busy with cheerleading practice and camp and traveling to the west coast with her mom.  Emily was chosen to cheer for the j.v. squad as a freshman for the football season.  She was happy to say the least.  Jennifer, Bry and I decided to take a last minute road trip, literally last minute, to the west coast.  We stayed with my cousin Sunny in southern California and had a chance to see my brother, cousins and nephews and nieces.  As I have told you before, our family is quite strong and close and meeting with them helped us with our grieving by celebrating who Andrew was and what he meant to us all.

 As we closed in on the Illinois border on our way back, I started to get really sad.  Coming home meant that we had to pick up the pieces of what has happened the past month and a half.  It meant coming home to the memories of Andrew at our place.  It meant that we had to face many painful things.  I have wondered if I was running away from the grieving process and I concluded that I have not.  That's not like me.  I usually let my emotions out and try to process things, but in this case I (we) needed to get away.  But the reality is my son is dead and my grieving will take some time.  I haven't cried like have cried the past few days.  Everything reminds me of him.  I have wailed and cried uncontrollably and it hurts so much.  For those that have lost a child, you can relate, but if you haven't, it really stinks!

The funny things is, unlike my divorce, I haven't asked why this has happened. I know that there is a sovereign plan placed by my heavily father even in the midst of sickness and death.  But it still stings like a !?@#%!  But I must tell you, I have felt anger the past few days.  My son is dead and I have felt the anger which is part of the grieving process.  Because of my faith in Jesus Christ and the eternal life I am guaranteed by it,  I have the hope to move through the grief.  My soul longs for God, His grace and to go home to be with Him and Andrew.  Psalm 42 reminds me of how I feel:

 As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me continually, "Where is your God?" 4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help 6 and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts; all your waves and your billows have gone over me. 8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. 9 I say to God, my rock, "Why have you forgotten me? Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?" 10 As with a deadly wound in my body, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me continually, "Where is your God?" 11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.

Finally, I implore you all for those who have not signed up to be a potential bone marrow donor to do so in a ridiculously easy process at bethematch.org!  Press here!  Our wonderful friends, the Lim's, need a life saving bone marrow transplant for their son Connor.  I am sure most of you who have followed this blog know of Connor's plight and the failed bone marrow transplant. You know of the special bond we have forged the past 6 months.   Patients like Connor need you more than ever to be proactive and live out your faith and words by registering.  

This is more than I intended to write, so I will leave you with a poem I wrote at Zuma Beach in Malibu, one of my favorite places on earth.  I hope you enjoy it.


Malibu...
I Can’t Wait…

I can’t wait ‘till I see your beautiful face again Andrew.
The simple grin that made me so proud,
Oh so unassuming in nature but oh so loud.

I can’t wait to hear you say, “Daddy, I love you” again.
In your lifetime your words were select and few,
But you made those words count and that’s how perfectly God made you.

I can’t wait to talk about anything and everything again.
You were not only my son, but also my buddy and my friend,
Someone I could count on until the very very end.

I can’t wait to see an opening day game together again.
As father and son we saw our share and cheered our teams on,
But in heaven we will be on God’s heavenly team with all sickness, death and sin gone.

I can’t wait to see the stars together again.
On earth you looked into the nighttime sky with a childlike gaze,
In heaven one day, we will explore so many galaxies it will be like a daze.

I miss you my son and I can’t wait…

***I HAVE A SPECIAL REQUEST.  IF YOU READ THIS POST, CAN YOU SHARE AN ENCOURAGING WORD OR TWO.  I KNOW WE HAVE A THRONG OF SUPPORTERS OUT THERE, BUT FOR ME, IT WOULD BE NICE TO READ WORD OF SUPPORT AND LOVE.   If you receive these messages via email, goto the blog site and then leave a comment at the end of the blog post.

xoxoxo,
Joe