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Thursday, September 13, 2012

MAKING YOUR LITTLE LIGHT SHINE...

Our last Light the Nigh Walk with Andrew in 2011.  We will continue to walk in honor of my beautiful son!
DEAR ANDREW'S ARMY!

Life has gotten a bit better the past few days.  Although my days and night are upside down, my mood has gotten better.  My sense of time and what has happened the past 9 months is all screwed up.  It has only been two and a half months since Andrew's death.  I MISS HIM DEARLY!  Everything seems to remind me of him.  I find myself talking to him from time to time.  It's as if he has been on a long vacation or away for college.  But unlike students that will be coming home for break, my Andrew will be never come back to us here on earth.  I bank on the eternal perspective and remember life here on earth is a mere blink of an eye.  It's a mere grain of sand on the beach.  Like I said in my last post, it's the eternal perspective keeping me sane, knowing I will see my son again!  
I want to turn your attention to something near and dear to Andrew's Army:  
Leukemia Lymphoma Society's Light the Night walk.  We have raised money and walked to benefit the LLS in helping find a cure and making cancer patients live's a bit more tolerable.  Some of the history of Andrew' condition my be old to you but please read this and think about what was written.  


This year's Light the Night Walk takes a completely different meaning. Instead of walking with Andrew in support of him being a survivor, we will be walking in memory of him. Instead of a white "survivor" balloon, Andrew's Army will be carrying gold balloons in memory of my beloved son.

Andrew's valiant and courageous battle began in March of 2009 when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. After an arduous journey of treatment, surgeries, and other hospitalizations, Andrew was supposed to go into long-term care this past June. But God had other plans. After a Christmas break vacation, Andrew developed pneumonia and a cursory blood test revealed abnormal blood results. After a bone marrow biopsy, the dreaded news of relapse hit Andrew and our family. The relapse necessitated a bone marrow transplant, but first Andrew needed to eradicate the cancer immediately and start chemo right away. Andrew indeed went into remission, had several miracles along the way and found a bone marrow match. Andrew received his donor cells in mid may. Shortly after, Andrew encountered complications from the bone marrow transplant, which lead him to the intensive care unit at the end of May to never regain full consciousness. Our beloved Andrew passed away to go onto his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on June 30, 2012 surrounded by a mass of family and friends who loved him dearly. For more details of his brave and courageous battle, please goto Andrew's blog site, press here.

He left a legacy of love and his infectious smile changed so many lives. He let his "little light" shine. It's amazing the testimonies of how profoundly Andrew's life and legacy has impacted people. Far more reaching than we could ever imagined. In his short 17 years on the earth, he led a "full" life and we are so blessed to have had him in our lives. I am so proud as a father Andrew gave so much to others.

With that being said, I am asking you all to consider donating in Andrew's honor and to join Andrew's Army, whether to donate or walk or both, and give to an organization to help find a cure and kick cancer's ass (sorry, best way to put it). Our Andrew may have died, but I know the contributions you give can make a huge impact in helping other's out who are battling this horrendous disease. I have been around pediatric cancer patients the past three years and I absolutely hate what this disease does. Please help in possibly helping these innocent victims of cancer and others who are battling valiantly. I pray for a world without cancer!

In this journey with my son, I have been so blessed to have met such great people, whether it has been healthcare providers, patients, patient’s families, etc. After Andrew’s death the outpouring of support whether prayer, encouragement, hugs or monetarily was so overwhelming and the behalf of the Park Family, thank you again. I pray you would raise awareness and spread the word about Light the Night, The Leukemia Lymphoma Society and Andrew’s testimony. Spread the word and give whatever you can. I am also inviting you all to walk with Andrew’s Army in the Light the Night Walk, Saturday October 20, 2012 and walk in remembrance of Andrew.

After raising almost $10,000 for last year's walk, I have set a lofty goal of $20,000.  Let's try to make this happen!  The money will make a difference!  Please goto my homepage:
PRESS HERE  (http://pages.lightthenight.org/il/WSuburbn12/JPark)  Again, I am asking to take a few brief moments to share this blog or send the address of my fund raising page to your friends and family.  If you all do that, we can easily meet our goal and then some.   SPREAD THE WORD AND LET'S KEEP ANDREW'S ARMY STRONG AND ALIVE!!!!

Blessings,
Joe

Sunday, September 9, 2012

SAD AND TRYING TIMES, BUT HOPE EVERLASTING....

The past few weeks have been very trying times.  To put it simply, they have been very depressing.  I never have been this depressed in my life.  Even my divorce was not as depressing and people who are close to me know my divorce was a very dark and depressing time in itself.  I have had the most difficult time sleeping and when I do get some, it is very unrestful.  I can't remember the last time I woke up and felt rested.  I abhor this feeling!  But I know I must go through this process as much as I don't feel like it at times.  The difference with my divorce and the grief from Andrew's death was that my grieving was mixed with an unhealthy doses of self pity: a very crippling elixir.   Also, I haven't been angry as much either.  Yes, anger has been a part of my grief, which is normal, but I have not questioned why for the most part.  If it were not for my faith in Jesus Christ, my wife, and children, I fear I would have not made it thus far.  I know Jennifer is very worried for me and it pains her to see me this way.  She has been so patient and understanding as she not only deals with my pain, but her's as well.  Honey, our dog, even senses something is wrong, as he is always by side, seemingly watching over me.  Honey was always by Andrew's side through the past three years as he battled so valiantly.

Some may have wondered with Andrew's passing, how I could I still believe in a God that allowed my son to die at such a awfully young age.  Why would a God that is so loving allow this and other countless unfair circumstances?  I am not a theologian nor a Christian with an abundance of Biblical acumen, but rather a believer in Christ, who believes with his little mustard of faith I possess that this world is not mine, Andrew's, nor other believer's final resting place.  I am not one to get into the a long theological explanation of my faith nor do I have any desire to, but rather tell you the very essence of what I believe.   And to do so, I believe the most appropriate way is to state the Apostle's Creed:


I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
   the Creator of heaven and earth,

   and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
   born of the Virgin Mary,
   suffered under Pontius Pilate,
   was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into hell.

The third day He arose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven
   and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
   whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
   the communion of saints,
   the forgiveness of sins,
   the resurrection of the body,
   and life everlasting.

Amen.

God did not allow this to happen, SIN DID!  In the Bible, Romans 3:23 states:

For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. 

That's why we live in a world of so much death, grief and suffering: SIN!  But I have discovered on my life's journey that their is more to this world and this life on earth is but a temporary place and ultimately not mine nor Andrew's home.  There is hope!  I trust what John 3:16 says:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

I don't know what I would do without having Jesus Christ in my life!  Seriously, I don't!  For those that don't know, we decided to have Andrew cremated and just recently, we divided some of his ashes to give to my mom and dad and my brother. As Jennifer was dividing Andrew's ashes, we discovered the movies are so wrong about ashes.  You and I have seen how ashes look powdery like talc or flour, but that's not so.  Although most of the ashes are powdery, there are small pebble size pieces of bone.  It is near incredibly difficult to get the ashes into a totally powdery state.  I decided to take one of those pieces of bone and look at it.  It was surreal, as I was holding a piece of what was Andrew's earthly body!  Some think this is rather macabre and but it wasn't for me. What if I didn't believe in heaven, what the Apostles Creed states and what John 3:16 and other scripture purport?  What if I believed after death, it would be the end for Andrew, never to see him again.  Nothing more!  Done, finish, end of the line!  Oh how dreadful and miserable, to state it mildly, life would be!  Nothing to hope for!  How appalling would that be.  Nothing to live for!

Although consumed by grief and knowing I will never be able to heal and fill in my wounded heart completely, I have a modicum of peace knowing Andrew and his friend Anna ,who died from complications from a bone marrow transplant several months earlier,  are in heaven in eternal peace and joy and I know I will see them again one day.  That's why I don't hate God.  That's what is getting me through these dark and trying times.  HOPE AND FAITH!  Most of you who have followed my blog and have read one of my favorite verses over and over: Phillipians 4:6-7:

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

I know many of you have been in awe and inspired of how I have kept it together the past 8 months with the care of Andrew and his death.  Some have wondered how I can have peace and a modicum of it.  I can't take credit.  Well, it is because of my hope and faith in my creator that this world is not my home, I am standing today.  All GOD!  Yes, it's been hard and there have been times I wish I could have my son back, but the peace that passes all understanding, stated in Philippians,  will get me through this journey on earth until I get to heaven, where there is no death, sickness, sadness, quarrels, grief, but eternal peace and joy.  THAT'S WHAT IS GETING ME THROUGH.  As I have cried my heart out many times these past few months, my closest of family and friends have reminded me of this and this has given me peace.

I know many of you are going through your own struggles and perhaps grief and if not, great!  I pray you will find the peace that passes all understanding as I have.  I hope you can be encouraged, by my testimony and the testimonies of so many, that there is hope.  I never thought I would be quoting
George Michael of Wham fame, but you gotta have FAITH!

Blessings,
Joe