OUR STORY


The following poem, written to the meter of  ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, was written by my husband, Andrew R. Backus.

For those who do not know us, it is the story of our lives – the circumstances under which we met, fell in love, and were married. Some may think the timing, circumstances and place where we were married a little odd, but we believe that the hand of God was leading and guiding us and put each of us in the right place at the right time. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8: 28)

Robert Toree Mom - Copy
Robert before his illness

Important Facts:

  • Andy’s first wife Dee passed away on Aug. 25, 2013 of Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) Grade 4 Brain Cancer – a form of Brain Cancer that is always terminal.
  • My first husband Bob Pocza passed away on Feb. 2, 2016 of a blood disease called Myelodysplastic Syndrome after an almost 4 year illness. I was now a widow.
  • On April 18, 2016 My son Robert Pocza was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) Grade 4 brain cancer, the same type of cancer that Dee had. Being a new widow, I moved from my home in Michigan to Wisconsin to live with and help my son, who lived in the Milwaukee area. He passed away on April 6, 2017.
  • Our story is bittersweet, but in all circumstances we know that God is good and does what is best for his children.

Christmas 2017/Epiphany 2018

 

 Merry Christmas to one, Merry Christmas to all!

And this Christ is named Jesus, as you may recall.

He’s the One God had promised right after the Fall.

He came into our world as a baby so small.

God and man in one person, He paid for all sin,

And He opened up heaven so all may go in.

 

With this letter we greet you, this man and this wife,

As we share with you things going on in our life:

 

‘Twas about this time last year that something was brewing,

And in a few months there will be vows renewing!

For you see, there’s a God and He knows what He’s doing.

 

It was May 22nd of Twenty-Sixteen

That a man and his mother in my church I’d seen –

A new widow from Michigan here for her son

Who had a brain tumor, the same kind of one

That somehow had happened to Dee my late wife –

The kind that ends up with the ending of life.

 

I offered support to this mom and her son,

For we know that with Jesus all battles are won.

The time went by quickly as we grew together

And they worked through medicines, red tape and weather.

 

The cancer progressed with its ups and its downs,

While Chris and her son dealt with smiles and with frowns.

In the meantime, my role was to offer support

 As we helped her son Rob who was such a good sport.

 

But something was happening, to our surprise;

We began seeing love as we looked in our eyes.

 

Robert noticed it too and began to remind us

That perhaps we should leave being single behind us.

 

Well, believe it or not, that’s exactly the thing

That transpired, and suddenly Chris had a ring!

 

Robert tearfully told her it would make him smile

If he with his mother could walk down the aisle.

 

So we planned and we plotted as fast as we could,

But that doggoned old cancer was up to no good.

Robert moved to a place, Zilber Hospice by name,

Where my wife Dee had been; it was one and the same!

So with God’s guiding hand and beside her son’s bed,

Christine Pocza and Andrew R. Backus – were wed!

 

Now believe me, the story continues from here;

For the next day we saw Robert’s end drawing near –

The end that without faith in Christ some would fear.

Chris’ son now went home to his Savior so dear.

 

In church we our vows reaffirmed on May six,

With God’s Word, prayer and song a big part of the mix.

The service by Pastor B. Adams was led;

Robert’s memory made known by a rose that was red.

Sarah Kuerth played the organ, Don Buch us addressed;

With song “You Gift of God” by Chris D. we were blessed.

 

Since then Chris and I have begun married life

And are making a home as a husband and wife.

We live in the same place as I did before,

And Chris’ sister Barb’s at Clare Meadows next door.

I still do many things such as I used to do,

But a dog, fish and birds are some things that are new!

 

I would be remiss if I failed to mention –

And bragging and boasting are not my intention –

That my grandchildren now number twenty and eight! *

Steve and Heather bore Theo – last June was the date!

I baptized little Theo at Bash – I was blessed!

And our family still knows “Backus Bash” is the best!

(*Just in case you are wond’ring “What else will he say?”

I can tell you that there is one more on the way!)

 

We have seen some things change and some things stay the same,

Yet in all of life’s changes, sin’s shame is our claim.

That’s why God sent His Son who is Jesus by Name;

He redeemed us poor sinners, and that’s why He came.

Happy Epiphany from the Backuses!

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Andy & Chris, May 6, 2017

 

 

 

 

Experience the Joy!


Jesus
“I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25)

Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. (Psalm 28: 6-8)

Have you ever experienced the joy? I don’t mean momentary joy. I mean true joy that never ends no matter what circumstances arise. Take a few minutes and think about the times in your life when you have been joyful, filled with happiness and overflowing with excitement. What comes to mind?

Some things that come to mind for me are my wedding day, the births of our children, the day we finalized the purchase of our first home, confirmations, graduations, family weddings and on and on. There are many. But how long did those moments last before becoming overshadowed with the disappointments of life and become only distant memories?

My husband and I were blessed with almost 45 years of marriage, but that joy we experienced on our wedding day is now overshadowed for me by a funeral – his funeral. He was called to his eternal home not so long ago. There were times during his illness when we both wished we could go back to happier days – when our children were small and life was fun and exciting. I am comforted by the fact that through faith in Jesus, he is with the Lord and I will see him again, but I still miss him. Every beginning here on earth also has an ending.

So, where can we find true joy – a joy that will never fade or end in disappointment? There is only one place to look for pure, never-ending joy in this life, and that is in our Savior, Jesus. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1: 3-5)

The joy we find through faith in Jesus is never-ending. In Jesus, we have peace for this life because we know He has paid our debt of sin. We are recipients of God’s wonderful grace which will never fail us no matter what we have done or not done. In Jesus, we have hope for eternity. We are covered in His holiness and He has reserved a place in heaven for us. We need not fear death. For those who love God, death is not the end, but the beginning. At our death, we will step over the threshold into a new life forever with the Lord.

As Christians, we walk with the Lord daily. His Spirit lives in us. We belong to Him. God is our loving Father. He will never forget us. He knows our needs before we do and He gives us what we need when we need it.  He doesn’t only meet our spiritual needs, but also our physical needs. He even cares about the small things in life – things which we would consider to be unimportant to an Almighty God and the Creator of our universe.

I recall one day losing my car keys. I was all ready to leave for an important appointment and my keys were nowhere to be found. In desperation, I prayed; “Lord help me remember where I put my keys.” After I prayed, I thought for a minute and remembered I had been searching through a little basket in my hutch for something. I bent over and pulled out the basket and there they were. I had dropped them there without thinking.

Often we are so busy trying to figure things out for ourselves that we miss God’s loving and divine intervention. But as we grow in faith and become more in tune with His Spirit, we will slowly become more aware of His presence in our lives.

I encourage you in the days to come, to ask God each morning before you begin your day, to make you aware of His presence and touch you with His Spirit. You will be amazed when you look back at the end of the day. I can pretty much guarantee that at some point; you will realize His divine providence. It will draw you closer to Him in your daily walk.

God is good. He lives in you. He loves you as if you were His only child. He, along with His holy angels, walks by your side daily, waking and sleeping. He will touch you with His power and with His Spirit when you least expect it. If you are not tuned in, you may miss it, but when you do see it, you will be filled with joy. Your heart will soar with amazement.

Seeing the Lord at work in our lives fills us with joy and confidence. That doesn’t mean there will never be sorrow, sadness or disappointments. It doesn’t mean that each day will go without trouble and irritation. But knowing that your God who is much stronger and bigger than you are is by your side, will give you confidence. It will lift a huge weight from your shoulders.

Remember, He has your back, and no matter what happens in life, you are a winner. He even cares about the little things, like misplaced car keys. He is a “Good Good Father”.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:11,12)

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

My son, Robert, who has terminal brain cancer, inspired me to write this blog post. As we were driving home from a Dr. appointment one day he began sobbing. I asked him; “What is wrong?”, thinking he was in pain. He replied, “I am so blessed to see the Lord’s hand working in my life. It is amazing that He loves me so much”.  His tears were tears of joy!

This is true, incomparable Joy!

Gloria Dei! Amen.

Update: 

Robert was called to his eternal home with the Lord on April 6, 2017. He took his last breath surrounded by family. It was like a refreshing sigh of relief. We all miss him and cried many tears, but we will see him again.

THAT H.O.G. MOMENT


And call upon me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you, and you will honor me.
(Psalm 50:15)

Have you ever heard of a “Hog” moment? I hadn’t until several months ago when it was explained to me that “H.O.G.” stands for Hand of God. “Oh, right”, I thought. “That makes perfect sense.” It is the moment/moments in one’s life when the light bulb comes on and the handiwork of God in a life situation, is clearly seen. I think it is something all Christians can relate to. In truth, nothing happens by chance in this life. Our God controls the lives of Christians and non-Christians alike.

The problem is that we sometimes become so focused on the divine that we fail to recognize His presence in the form of physical help. I would like to relay a story about this exact type of situation to you. It is a story you may have already heard from a pastor or Christian friend, but maybe some have not. It is an old Christian fable very similar to the type of stories Jesus told during His ministry. The man in this story was so focused on expecting a miracle from God, that he didn’t recognize the hand of God in the help that was being offered and he lost his life because of it. It goes as follows:

God Will Save Me
A terrible storm came into a town and local officials sent out an emergency warning that the riverbanks would soon overflow and flood the nearby homes. They ordered everyone in the town to evacuate immediately.
A faithful Christian man heard the warning and decided to stay, saying to himself, “I will trust God and if I am in danger, then God will send a divine miracle to save me.”
The neighbors came by his house and said to him, “We’re leaving and there is room for you in our car, please come with us!” But the man declined. “I have faith that God will save me.”
As the man stood on his porch watching the water rise up the steps, a man in a canoe paddled by and called to him, “Hurry and come into my canoe, the waters are rising quickly!” But the man again said, “No thanks, God will save me.”
The floodwaters rose higher pouring water into his living room and the man had to retreat to the second floor. A police motorboat came by and saw him at the window. “We will come up and rescue you!” they shouted. But the man refused, waving them off saying, “Use your time to save someone else! I have faith that God will save me!”
The flood waters rose higher and higher and the man had to climb up to his rooftop.
A helicopter spotted him and dropped a rope ladder. A rescue officer came down the ladder and pleaded with the man, “Grab my hand and I will pull you up!” But the man STILL refused, folding his arms tightly to his body. “No thank you! God will save me!”
Shortly after, the house broke up and the floodwaters swept the man away and he drowned.
When in Heaven, the man stood before God and asked, “I put all of my faith in You. Why didn’t You come and save me?”
And God said, “Son, I sent you a warning. I sent you a car. I sent you a canoe. I sent you a motorboat. I sent you a helicopter. What more were you looking for?”

Can any of you relate to this? This story is rather extreme, but I believe there are times in each of our lives when God uses physical means to rescue us from difficult situations and we miss the help He is offering because we are only focused on the divine. We expect “all” from God or “nothing”. We fail to see His helping hand right before us because we are expecting Divine Intervention rather than trusting in His Divine Providence, and sometimes he allows the situation to require of us a little effort and common sense of our own.

Robert 2
Before illness

I have experienced this in my own life recently. My son who is 40 years old, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in April of 2016. At the time we were informed of the treatments offered. The first step was to remove the tumor as best they could. Following surgery he would undergo radiation for 6 weeks along with chemotherapy. That was Phase One. He would then get a 1-month break after which Phase Two would begin. Phase Two includes a maintenance dose of Chemotherapy for 1 year, and a treatment they call “Optune”.

Robert before surgery
Before Surgery

The Chemo is the easy part, or it seemed so at the time. Optune is a different story. It involves time, help from a caregiver, and finances. The following link is an explanation of Optune:

Robert after surgery
After Surgery

Optune

Basically Optune uses electricity to interrupt the growth of cancer cells in the brain. The patient must shave his/her head completely and wear a “cap”. The cap contains electrodes that direct electrical charges to the section/sections of the brain where the cancer is located and must be activated 18 hours per day in order to be effective. It is an optional treatment, but it is proven to be effective. It has improved the statistical survival rate of 2 years, by 50%. It is not a cure, but it offers hope and may buy time for patients until a cure can be found. The cost of Optune per patient is $21,000 per month, but financial assistance is offered and according to the above link, no patient is ever denied the treatment.

After bandage removal
After bandage removal

So what does this all have to do with a H.O.G. moment?

With Optune
With Optune

Well, overall the treatment sounds very overwhelming and difficult. When it was offered to my son right after his surgery, we both agreed fully that he should try it. When it was almost time to start it though, we dragged our feet a little. It sounded difficult to do, and the commitment of time, and care sounded huge. And would it even work? My question posed to the Oncologist was this; if this was you or one of your family members, would you recommend it? Without hesitation she answered; I would do it, hands down! That pretty much made the decision for us.

We had been praying for a miracle from God. We were hoping that God with His almighty power would heal Roberts brain of the cancer, and certainly He could, if it were His will to do so. But finally the light bulb switched on in my brain and I realized that maybe Optune is the “car”, the “canoe” the “motorboat” or the “helicopter” that God is sending to save Robert’s life. This could be the miracle we have been praying for and we almost missed it because our human minds were expecting/hoping for divine intervention. We almost turned away from the help offered because it was going to take a little effort on our part. God gives good gifts. His never ending grace is free and Jesus did the work, but He doesn’t always allow earthly gifts to just fall into our lap. God gives us choices and sometimes those choices require prayerfully considering the means He is setting before us.

Robert is now undergoing the Optune treatment along with Chemotherapy. He is doing well with it. He has not had any adverse reactions and it is not as difficult to use as it sounds. The “cap” stays on for three days. (I had pictured having to remove and replace it every 18 hours.) He carries a battery pack over his shoulder which he is getting used to. He can turn it off after 18 hours or leave it on continually. After 3 days I peel it off his head and he is able to wash his head and be without it for up to 6 hours. He then shaves his head and the “cap is replaced by a new one. He will never have hair again, but the “cap” generates heat so it will keep his head warm in the winter. And how important is hair in light of living or dying? I would encourage anyone in a similar situation to give Optune a try. Only time will tell if it is working for Robert, but in the meantime we are living life as normal as possible.

Miniature golf
Life as Normal

 

Optune is not a cure, but it is a treatment that will hopefully extend his life. We thank God for medical technology. We will accept whatever the future holds knowing that we have a powerful and almighty God who loves us and will never leave us to face these difficult times alone. For Robert it is a win win situation. If he lives he gets to stay here with us. If the Lord calls him home, he will be forever with God in the mansions prepared for him by Jesus.

Kevin Toree Caitlyn 2016
Three of his special people

In the end, I am beginning to see that Optune, rather than Chemo is the easy part. Chemotherapy is exhausting for the patient. Of the two, I think I would rather have to deal with Optune the rest of my life than Chemo.

The apostle Paul encourages us; Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is Gods will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Heavenly Father,
Remind us each day of your presence in our lives and help us to remember that nothing happens by chance. There are many situations in life which are completely out of our control. At these times, remind us that you ARE in control and that you always have a plan, in which all the pieces of the puzzle will fit together perfectly for the good of your children.
In Jesus name we pray,
Amen

To God be all glory!

by Christine