Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Woooo Whooooo

So, the Captain called. The Army gave her some unexpected time off.

I'm on my way to the Indianapolis Airport to meet Dr. Al and the Boys.

We will head north for a fun, long weekend at the lake.

Mike has gathered the goodies: tube, skis, gas for the boat, and all of that.

Soon, I'm hugging grandboys.

We are having another temperature spike: we're expecting temperatures in the 90s. For Allyson and boys, this will be a reprieve from San Antonio's weather.

Can't wait.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Birthday Party Report

Although today, 8/29, is Mike’s actual birthday, SOME of us have to work so we celebrated his 3rd Annual “I’m Still Here” Birthday with a big party on Saturday night.

With a blanket invite, I was expecting roughly somewhere between 20 and 70. Someone asked me, “How do you plan for THAT?” My secret? Not so much planning.

I visited a local bakery and ordered 60 cupcakes, a dozen in 6 varieties. I made a quick trip to Sam’s Club and purchased some brightly colored drink cups, some matching napkins, a case of Seagrams wine coolers, and, um, 300 plastic forks. Anybody need forks?

And the wrong beer. I mean, I asked after the fact. My beeros were nice but said, "MILLER Light." Ok, next time.

On Saturday, one guest asked me early if she could bring some fresh fruit. I said, “Sure.” Then I was off to the local grocery store for soft drinks, chips and such, a veggie tray, some cheese balls, a few interesting cracker varieties, and cookies.

Back to the cottage, out came the white table cloth. By 3, we started to load the table with stuff. But, as guests arrived, so many brought ‘something’ that much of my purchases remained unopened. The guests started arriving around 4 and by 7, the count was 48 – 50. A few random children here and there…not sure they were ours. SOME kids will do anything for some cake.

And noise makers. And baloons.

A Kokomo contingent drove the 70 miles north to join the party.

Before the candles were lit, the Birthday Boy had a few words to say. I captured it on video and as soon as my people (Zach) can, I’ll post it here.

After the candles were blown out, the party began. It consisted of lots of people, some who knew each other, some who didn’t. They shared their connection with Mike. That was enough to forge new friendships. EVERYBODY, it seems, has a Mike Story. The buzz in and around the cottage was warm. Like the temperature.

A quick cloud burst let visitors experience a bit of the lake that the regulars are familiar with. Then folks were outside for Corn Hole Competitions, boat rides, strolls around the island and conversation.

Folks came and left; some came back. By 10, many but not all had called it a night. Most were resting up for Sunday's Island Breakfast, at Hal and Jenny's, down the block.

There were many highlights, but I think the absolute best moment for me was when Mike’s buddy, Tom, a retired chief-of-police, related Mike’s favorite story from his years in service. I’d heard it many times and I can’t do it justice here; but Mike was sitting 4 feet on my right and when I turned to look at him, he was smiling so big, his cheeks seemed to crack.

I looked around for my camera, phone, video cam, anything but by now, all devices had been moved and moved aside for the party. I must say, though, that this image is branded into my heart. I believe I will always remember that big smile. So, thanks, Thomas.

So, now we’re back to the routine: Mike will maintain residence north and I’ll be back in the classroom Monday. This week, though, will be a short work week: Allyson and the boys arrive Wednesday afternoon and we will spend the weekend on the lake.

We try to put the cancer thing on the back burner whenever we can. I mean, this was the 3RD birthday party, after 3 wedding anniversaries; we DO have some tests coming up in September and then we’ll meet with Mike’s doctor in October to discuss what’s next.

And, we will keep you all posted.

Please continue to pray for our sister-in-law Janelle, her husband Ken, and their family. It is their prayer that, besides miraculous healing, God will be glorified.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


News: Tomorrow, Monday, we will show up at the University Hospital in Indianapolis, at 6 (yawn) AM for Mike's 4th ERCP. He had left me a note after a recent trip to the doctor:


So, first available, right?

THIS is first available.

6 AM in Indianapolis means 4:45 AM on the road TO Indianapolis.

We'll see a smattering (bad choice of words) of truckers. Mostly, the roads will be clear and ours. Mike DID mention that we would get their sooner if he drove. So, fine. I'd rather not drive with him in the shotgun position. That usually brings helpful tips about hitting all the green lights and watching out for the _______, and "do you know where you're going?"

By now, I do. Even in the dark.

The ERCP is a palliative procedure so on many levels, it's good that we are getting the 4th one.

Views: My mind is flooded right now with thoughts about my sweet sister-in-law, who has gained the weight of an inoperable brain tumor; and her husband, my baby brother, a big lug of a guy who protects his family, both immediate and extended. In this situation, they both come face to face with how helpless we all are, except for running to the strong arms of our Savior. While it's a good reminder, it usually comes through the most dire of circumstances.

And, can I help it if I'm reliving OUR life two years ago? Ken is inundated with 30, 40, 50 emails a day, all asking the same questions and afraid to ask the same questions; Janelle, who's long-time blog ( is shining with the love she has for God, plus candid remarks about her current experiences; and the darkness of the long nights, the quiet times with scripture, the need to talk about uncomfortable topics with those she loves.

I know, because I'm in one loop, that an ocean of believers are holding Janelle and Ken (and their children) up to the Father. A miracle? We'll take it. A healing that extends life far beyond what a doctor may say? We'll take it. God's will, even if it means what medical science seems to hold? Hmmmmm, well.....

I found myself singing to the radio "All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give." (Moody station)

Except I got caught....."All to Jesus, I surrender.....except THIS."

Weak sister here.

I visited with Ken on the phone and told him that all those Christian cliches' about God's will, and God's grace, and God's goodness.......feel a bit cold right now. It's when we must, MUST, rely on what we know about God. And if you've forgotten, read Janelle's blog and be reminded.

Yesterday, Janelle opined that perhaps within God's grace, should this be her graduation to glory, she may be saved some real pain on earth. How non-coincidental that I was given similar insight by a young man in a coffee shop who is learning Russian on his own and needed a break.
(He told me that although he's no genius, he has the ability to pick up languages easily and thinks that God will send him to the mission field. In Russia? God knows.)

And here's something else I know: NOW is when Satan turns all guns on God's children. At my church, they like to call him The Evil One, perhaps because the culture has cutified 'satan.' Whatever his name, he and his minions surround us; we are protected but in weakness, he finds just a small hole to wheedle away.

In our story, as Mike lay recuperating from a failed surgery, a dark curtain fell and he doubted his salvation. No matter what I said, what anyone said, he sank into despair that not only would he die but he'd be damned to hell. A pall hung over his pillow.

So, I enlisted all of God's children within the scope of my voice and writing, to pray to this specific end: that God would lift the curtain and shine through with assurance and peace. And, faithful ever (remember that) He did.

And, today, I'm going to ask you and everyone I can reach, to prayer that Satan (evil one, whatever) be held at bay, that amidst what Ken and Janelle are fording, their minds and hearts can be at peace that God is with them, will never leave them, loves them more than anyone and more than humans can understand.

PS. Janelle's illness has brought me back to being keenly aware of our situation. We need your prayers, also.

News PS: Daughter Allyson is coming home over Labor Day. She told me she got 'unexpected' time off (no coincidences for God's children) and thought this would be a good idea. Fun and the Lake over Labor Day!

Friday, August 19, 2011

3rd Annual "I'm Still Here" Birthday Party

Well, it's that time again.


Saturday, August 27, 2011
501 Administration in Winona Lake, IN
And around Winona Lake, IN.

We will light and blow out the candles at 5 PM.
Come when you wish.
Stay as you wish.

And, once again, a happy birthday to Mike!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Make room

How much we cherish our friends who drop by our blog.
How we cherish your thoughts and prayers for us.
How we have seen All Mighty God intervene.

How we need to make room:

First, please visit or revisit

This is the blog of our sister-in-law, Janelle Hayes.
You will be blessed.

She is now facing decisions about treatment for her brain tumor.
She and her family are at the apex of this decision.

She and her husband, Ken, ask for wisdom.
(not advice)

They are wrapped in the Father's arms.

Please add Janelle and Ken Hayes to your prayer list.

Thank you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Meet with the Doctor/Go to School

Tuesday's appointment with Mike's doctor was mostly good news. Mike's vacation from chemo has helped his body re establish its strength. All those blood numbers are up and good.

He told his doctor that he hasn't 'felt this good' in a long time. Other numbers indicate that, as she says, "Well, you have the disease. It's just a number."

Mike's current plan is to head back up to the lake as I begin back to school. We've had two work days and the games REALLY begin tomorrow.

This could be a good plan. I can stay late any day, work ahead, and then dash up to the lake right after school on Friday.

There are lots of changes at school. It will be a new challenge on several fronts. But, for me, being in my classroom is a statement of normalcy, so it's all good.

We will continue to keep you posted. For now, please remember to pray for my sister-in-law Janelle and her husband, who happens to be my baby brother. Ken and I just chatted. He echos some of our experiences 2 years ago.

Funny how life works, isn't it? No time to ruminate about that. We are God's children. This, right now, is the Plan.

Thanks for joining with us.

So, here's a lot of the family

Britt Hayes and Kenneth Freeman joined hands and promised to 'always love' each other; this in front of friends AND family, smiling widely.

Here is Britt with her mom, Janelle.
All the planning that leads up to a weddding can be hectic. The entire weekend ran flawlessly.

And this is the Bride and Groom.
Last time I saw Kenneth, he had a beard which he shaved for the occasion. The hat is a constant.

These are the Hayes sibs with their MOM, Evelyn. From left to right, Kris, Jan, Mom, Lynne, and Ken, the father-of-the-bride. He said he figured out his job early. "Say nothing and sign checks."

Sister Kris is married to Steve Amerson. Their daughter Kat is fresh from her freshman year at Westmont in Santa Barbara. Their son, Matthew, was back in California working.

Here's Mom with two granddaughters, Allyson Fewell (my girl) and Sarah Parsons, Jan's eldest.

Drew, Jarrod, and Noah retreated early to a side table and a hot game of Angry Birds. Jarrod is Sarah's youngest son.

Here's Mom again with her Great Greats: Josh (Sarah's), Drew and Noah (Allyson's) and Jarrod.

Sister Jan engaged in deep discussions with Noah, who is often deep into discussions....often with himself. So serious.

Earlier, Allyson and I stopped for a drink of water. I have learned why folks in the south wear hats.

Hot hot hot.

And here is Mom with Zach and Ian, two of her grandsons.

And me with my kiddos. We clean up nice.

The weekend was so much fun, Allyson and Sarah are planning another family adventure.

Mr. and Mrs.

The big family treat: gather in Raleigh to witness the marriage of my niece, Britt, to her North Carolina guy, Kenneth.

For Kenneth and Britt: 7/30/2011

There you are in foreign clothes, smiling broadly, toes to toes
Holding hands and speak the words, some of the oldest ever heard
Family, friends, all smiling too. In merely minutes, we’re all through


And now: Marriage

This man, this woman, together; not MINE, not YOURS, but OURS
Everything, now for us. Now through us. Now by us.
That’s the idea, anyway. And the ideal.
The more you two can be as one, less the drama –more the

For her, he wants to fix it. What’s the problem? Here, do this.
Or let me.
But she knows it’s more complicated. She wants to explain (and explain and explain)
For him, she wants to teach him “nuance.”
SHE sees nuance. What’s wrong with him?
And that’s the mystery: two become one but will ever differ.
Blending is the secret.

It’s easy to love him when there he stands, flowers and a big grin,
Pleased that he remembered.
But, it’s hard for him to remember.
It’s easy to love her when there she stands, all fresh and powdered
At the end of the day.
But it’s hard to primp at the end of the day.

And all too often, even though there is love,
We let it slip to expected, convenience.

Don’t fight much, but fight this.

Today you make a promise. You make it to each other; to your parents; to your family; to your friends; and to God.
Ah, but promises are fragile.
If you break it, you will hurt your love, your family, God, and mostly yourself.
So commit. Commit to take this hand and walk the path through life.
Help each other; guide each other. Let each other ‘win.’

It’s the plan that He set forth for His creation.
“It is not good for man to be alone.”

Be good.
Be best.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Rally the Prayer Warriors

So, if you’ve been tuning in for the next installment, you wonder just how lazy can one writer be.
I gotta tell ya: pretty lazy. Actually we have all sorts of adventures to share with our friends, including the week of the Grandsons (whew, God intends YOUNG women to have children) and a grand family wedding weekend in Raleigh.

But, first to the important thing. My sweet sister-in-law --- mother of the bride, by the way --- drove home from Raleigh on Sunday; on Monday, she learned that she has a brain tumor; on Wednesday, it was determined that it is inoperable; on Thursday, biopsy showed that, as she puts it, “this thing is not my friend.”

And on Friday, she and brother Ken got to go home and sleep in their own bed.

Right off: Janelle and Ken belong to Jesus. They love the Lord. No matter how this goes, they will rest in His infinite wisdom.

They have a great church family; they have a great (I think) blood family. And they have a huge internet family, most of whom are already praying.

Janelle is the author of Showandtellblog. In addition to administrating a private preschool, she creates the most unique things from paper and stamps and ribbon. Many of her family hold treasured pieces of her art. She writes about the how and why of her creations.

Her current blog updates her readers about her health but just for a moment. Then she takes you to all the goodie bags that she created for the wedding.

As I know that many of my readers are also praying for us --- and by the way, we have a big doctor’s appointment on Tuesday morning --- I will ask you to add Janelle and Ken Hayes, plus their daughter Britt (new husband Kenneth) and their son Ian, to your list.

Ken and Janelle are asking God for a miracle. An absolutely clean bill of health. They will meet with a team of doctors and plan to attack this foreign mass as advised.

But they put their faith in God. They ask that all of us, any of us, pray that Janelle will be healed.

Thank you for joining in this battle with us.