Lawrence and Caroline Chermely – Live Deeply

We’re Lawrence and Caroline Chermely, and this is how we’ve been living deeply.

Lawrence: “Our son Andy was born 15 weeks premature. He started out life at 1 pound 3 ounces, about as long as an ink pen. His chances of survival didn’t look good. My wife Caroline had severe complications that also endangered her life during the pregnancy. But the Lord graciously answered the prayers of our family and our church family at CSPC. Today Andy’s just a joy- 10 years old and full of happiness. He just loves everybody. He likes to play the piano. About a year ago, he asked if I’d start mountain biking with him, so we’ve done that. (And doctors told us two years ago he might never ride a bike!) He loves anything outdoors; digging in the dirt, getting dirty, climbing trees. I own my own plumbing company and Andy likes going on plumbing runs with me, plus he likes doing the work.”

Caroline: “Some of the first words Andy ever said were, ‘How work?’ He always wants to know how things work. He just always wants to work. I used to say ‘Let’s go outside and play.’ But he would say, ‘No, work.’ Then he would find a hammer or start raking leaves. Just today he was vacuuming.”

Lawrence: “I remember one of the first parties he went to, instead of going into the bounce house, he wanted to know ‘How does this thing inflate?’ He is just so full of life and energy. God has been really gracious to us in giving us our son.”

Caroline: “Having Andy, and the difficult start to his life, taught us how trustworthy God is. Having lived through that and seeing how powerful He is, I feel such assurance. So I will eagerly obey and do what He asks us to do. Since then, there have been lots of other hard roads He’s called us to walk; too many to get into. I think if we hadn’t been through what we went through with Andy and learned how trustworthy God is and how faithful He is, I probably would have run the other direction.”

Lawrence: ”I think the uncertain nature of Andy’s earliest days has definitely strengthened our marriage. We’re just like any other couple- you have your seasons, right? Health problems, other challenges. But I’ll never forget when we were admitted to the hospital to fight for both Caroline’s and Andy’s lives, Caroline grabbed me and said, ‘I need you!’”

Caroline: “And I did need him, more than ever! He was such a wonderful caregiver and source of strength for me”

Lawrence: “My gut was like, ‘I kind of need to check out. I don’t know if I can handle this.’ She was like, ‘I need you to step up.’ So I did. One big thing we did every morning we were in the hospital: a friend gave us a CD of Scripture set to a lullaby. It was so good. We would listen to that and pray.“

Caroline: “We had only been married a year and a half at this point. I think we learned really quick how we handle stress differently, and we also grieve differently. After Lawrence and I went home, but Andy was still in the middle of what would be a 108-day hospital stay, I remember saying, ‘This is either going to kill us or bring us together. We’re going to have to decide.’ I wanted to talk about it all the time. He just needed to shut down and process. I had to let him be quiet and understand that was how he was processing. And he had to know that I needed him to not totally withdraw, but to be available to talk. That was a gift in some ways early on, because there have been other stressful times since. We learned how we each deal with stress, so we’ve been able to give each other grace there.”

Lawrence: ”Plus Caroline was sick a lot of that time, which meant looking after both her and the baby. Once he got home, Andy ripped his feeding tube out all the time. We didn’t take him to the doctor. We just put it back in ourselves. One of us held him down and the other put the tube back down the nose all the way to the stomach. Caroline was a nurse, so her having confidence in that area helped.”

Caroline: “Lawrence, in the end, was the one who ended up doing a lot of the medical stuff. That was because I couldn’t bear to see Andy cry. I could do it to strangers, but not to my baby!”

Caroline: “I feel so humbled that God answered our prayers and that Andy is here- that He chose to demonstrate His faithfulness, might and power through Andy’s life. I’m honored that He would do that for my son. And going through all of this has definitely given us greater compassion for those who are hurting.”

Lawrence: “That’s a struggle I’ve always had. Since Andy’s birth, we’ve been at funerals for babies and known people who had to bury their child at birth. My own brother buried his son at 11 weeks old. So sometimes I do struggle with how God picks and chooses in these situations. We’ll probably never know that on Earth. Caroline and I are very sensitive to and feel deeply for those whose stories are so painful.”

Caroline: “I think we just feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude and trust in God- in His plan, whatever that is.”

Lawrence: “Our story also just deepens our knowledge of God’s faithfulness in answering prayer. I remember meeting with [CSPC Pastor] Scott Jackson at the hospital and praying, ‘Lord, Andy is yours. If you want to take him, take him. And if you entrust me to be his father here on Earth, I’ll do the best I can.’ We really learned to trust God with our prayers and trust God with Andy’s life. It’s strengthened our prayer life since and given us peace.”

Caroline: “Also, when a challenge comes up now, it’s given us the ability to say, ‘Babe, we can do this! We’ve done harder. This is not that scary. That was terrifying.’“

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