Tuesday, December 25

Merry Christmas to all!

A Merry Christmas to everyone! This year Lisa and I are posting our Christmas letter. So if you didn't get one in the mail, here it is on my blog. Again, Merry Christmas and thank you all for your support this past year.

Dear Friends and Family,

You have been chosen to be a recipient of the 2007 "Ben and Lisa Morrell" Christmas letter. We opted for sending out a letter this year verses last year's "Postcard" model due to the extra space the letter provides to tell you all sorts of things about our life this past year. We have taken this Christmas letter to do what is typically done at New Years, look back at the past year and remember all our wild and crazy actions. We hope you enjoy it as much as I (Ben) worked hard to produce it.

As many of you probably are aware it has been a rougher year for us than either of the past two of our marriage. I (Ben) was diagnosed with Desmoplastic Small Cell Round Tumors (DSCRT) cancer in early May. Not quite how Lisa and I envisioned this year, what with being in the hospital 40% of the time I was in chemotherapy (6 months) and various trips to the ER to help manage pain. Despite all this Lisa and I cling, firmly, to the belief that God is in control of our lives and no matter what happens He has our best in mind. Psalm 40 has been "my verse" through this ordeal.

A little other news: In January I traded my new computer for a Rolex watch. Through some rather long ordeals I eventually sold off the Rolex and made a profit on the difference between the computer cost and the Rolex. I however will not be doing that again... ever.

Also last winter, Lisa started to project manage a new building for a group called Imagicorps with her architecture company; this involved submitting for permit, drafting drawings & construction supervision. She is still working on that project today, along with a few others, but assures me that she will be wrapping that up in February.

We also started to talk about moving last March and looking around Seattle for new housing we might fit into as well as cleaning up/ fixing up our current condo for selling. However, we didn't get very far in these endeavors, which ended up being a very good thing.

In early April Lisa and I paid off the last of my student loans (a whole 7 months ahead of the aggressive payback schedule we had set up). God blessed us with extra income to be able to pay that off early. Of course, He knew what was coming. This kicked off what has been referred to around our house as the "Summer of Chemo".

I went through 6 rounds of "continuous infusion" chemo for 3 to 5 days in the hospital. I showed up at the hospital and they hooked me up to a small pump and then I sat there for the next 3 to 5 days while they continually fed drugs into my system to kill off the cancer. I would then come home for a little bit and then my immune system would "crash" and I would be back in the hospital on more drugs until my immune system was better. Then about a week after that, they would start chemo again. It was a long summer.

I would like to say that Lisa stayed by my side a good part of the time and was very supportive to me as I was in pain and going through all sorts of stuff. Her employers were good enough to buy her a laptop from which she could do work at home while taking care of me or in the hospital while watching me sleep. I doubt I could have gotten as far as I have gotten without her support.

In July, my brother Adam got married! Sheli Morrell is our new sister-in-law. Unfortunately, I was in the hospital during the wedding, but Lisa was able to attend and be involved in some the preparation. With the help of a couple friends, I was able to watch the ceremony via webcam.

Towards the end of the chemo in September, Lisa had her 25th birthday and I threw her a big shindig (complete with a Pinata) with a lot of her friends and family. It's not every day you turn a quarter of a century old so I thought we should celebrate in style. (Plus I was out of the hospital and used any excuse I could muster to see people and party!)

In October we took a trip to Hood River, Oregon—beautiful in the harvest time.

Following the Summer of Chemo we got ready for surgery on November 26th. It was such a blessing that the surgeon had dealt with this type of cancer before and knew the importance of removing every tumor. In the process he only had to take out Ben's appendix and a little bit of his liver. Now, two weeks later Ben is recovering quickly from this major surgery and should be feeling fairly normal by Christmas! Radiation therapy will begin in January. God is in control.

Aside from cancer, which is a BIG aside, Lisa and I still enjoy cooking together and coming up with elaborate meals and/ or desserts for the friends and family we might choose to feed. Niko, our adopted parrot, had to find a foster home for the duration of my chemo and is now living elsewhere for the moment. We also purchased a new car this year. We sold both of our other cars and had enough to buy a new Honda Civic with the proceeds. (We spend less on gas and car repair this way) It's been a good car and Lisa and I also enjoy the time carpooling together in the mornings and evenings.

I (Ben) also got another job this past summer. I went part-time at Taproot Theatre and picked up a second part-time job at Northshore Baptist Church. Northshore has been nice because it allows me to work around some other technical people and it's been relaxing not having to come up with things to do for myself as I have a boss who is there a solid 40 hours a week.

Professionally, Lisa is still working on completing the requirements for this country’s “intern development program” in architecture. This year she’s hoping to complete the program and start taking the certification exams to become an architect.

Many of you are receiving this card because you have helped and supported us this past year. Lisa and I both thank you all tremendously for all the love and support you have shown through such things as meals, cards, emails, and prayers. You have been a big part of our lives this past year in many ways. Thank you. While we don't know what this next year will hold for us, we hope that God will continue to grow us through His love and show us mercy in His peace.

Thank you all, and a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your families!

~Ben and Lisa Morrell

P.s. All the details of this past year (and years before that) can be found at Ben's blog (which Lisa sometimes hijacks) at http://802heaven.analogcafe.net
Lisa's building can be seen at Sierra Construction's Website.



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