In the Book of Mormon, there is a record of a family who traveled from the Tower of Babel to the American continent. The family of Jared soon received their first glimpse of a vast, stormy ocean, having been required of the Lord to crawl into some mysterious air-tight vessels they were promised would carry them safely to a better place. As they gazed into the deep, moving water, they breathed the unfamiliar sea salt and felt the ice cold water lap at their feet. "What will become of our family?" "Can we do this thing that God requires of us?"

These were the questions we asked as our family stood on the edge of a new journey in February 2011. Before Cathi was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, we saw the waves of an unfamiliar storm brewing and felt the fear of anticipation. When the cancer was certain, our family was required to wade into the cold water, crawl into a mysterious vessel and trust the Lord would be in charge.

The family of Jared was given stones touched by the finger of the Lord that provided light inside their vessels "that they might not cross the great waters in darkness......and it came to pass that...(they) set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God. And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind. And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind. And it came to pass that when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a dish, and also they were tight like unto the ark of Noah; therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters. And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind. And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord. And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water." Read the rest:

This blog is the captain's log of our family's journey. It will serve to keep all of you updated on Cathi's condition but also be a place where I can express the lessons we are learning so that it might be a source of strength for others who are going through difficult challenges. We are certainly not unique in this regard. I hope to continue trusting in the light we have been given and to lead our family when we are encompassed by the dark ocean or tossed by its waves. We sincerely seek for your faith in asking the Lord to calm the water, give strength beyond our own and lead all of us of us to a better place.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cancer Free!

Many people have asked us if Cathi is now considered cancer free. We've sort of hesitated in giving a direct answer to this question because none of Cathi's medical support staff has ever stated that. We have been told, however, that Cathi will continue to have her blood checked on a regular basis and that IF the results look even slightly suspicious that more tests will be conducted. At this point, Cathi has had blood work with no need for further testing.

I told a work friend yesterday (who has been through cancer herself) that we are not sure what to say to folks that ask what Cathi's current prognosis is. Michelle, who has been one of the many great resources for me this past year, said without hesitation, "You tell Cathi that she needs to tell people she is cancer free!" Not until then did I contemplate something we learned repeatedly over the last nine months . . . that faith and positive thinking will always trump scientific detail. How could we have forgotten THAT?

So Cathi and I and our kids would like to officially declare to the world that, as of today . . . Cathi is CANCER FREE! That doesn't mean that the Van Leuvens "lived happily ever after" (at least yet). It does mean that we are grateful for Cathi's recovery and for all that we have gained in loving friendships, profound learning and a major discovery that, with the Lord's help, we can do hard things!

With her hair beginning to grow back, I convinced Cathi to let me post the one and only picture we have of her shiny, bald head. I will always treasure this picture of Cathi with our three youngest.

Here is my currently cancer-free wife holding a little Willow Tree angel statue "Courage" given to her by a dear friend from Houston who has fought through her own life challenges.

We learned this past week that another dear Houston friend, after twenty-one cycles of chemo, has had more tumors discovered. Another good brother we love in our church continues to faithfully battle this unrelenting disease. I know everyone battles their own challenges and goes through their own Gethsemanes. We need each other and we need to know that our lives are part of a plan of happiness that lead back to a loving Father who has missed us during our absence. I am so grateful that I share this perspective with so many of you and hope I and my family can be a source of strength for those who do not know this.

Take the time to listen to one man's message about how this eternal perspective helped him overcome a tragedy we all remember . . . something he experienced up close.