Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Kristi

Tomorrow would have been Kristi's 42nd birthday; one week after the 6 month anniversary of her passing, and one week before if I don't seem like I'm in a very festive mood you now know why.  Tomorrow night we're going out to dinner to honor her birthday.

I can't type anymore.  Pray that we can make it through this holiday season and still find some joy.

I love this picture of us.  We were so happy together.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

December 10, 2011: 6 Months

I'm wearing my Courage To Shine shirt today in honor of Kristi. It's been 6 months today. In some ways it seems like it's been 10 years but in other ways it seems like yesterday.  I can't believe she's been gone 6 months.

Right now, I'm sitting in a very hot and humid pool auditorium at Grandville High School with what seems/sounds like about 10,000 screaming girls. I can't help but think about Kristi as I sit here...she would be the one normally attending this. She used to always come home with these pounding headaches from these meets. I never understood why. I do now. My head. It hurts.  There is a very loud and obnoxious mom behind me clapping and screaming to cheer her daughter on. While it warms my heart to hear a mother supporting her daughter like that, I really wanted to turn around a say "look lady, your daughter's in 6th place, settle down already!". But I didn't. :) Oh my head hurts real bad. She won't shut up. Talk talk talk talk. Really lady?! 

Anyway, life goes on. The kids haven't mentioned anything yet about it being 6 months. I don't think I'll bring it up. If they mention it we'll talk about it, but no reason to remind them. They seem to be doing really well in their adjustment. Sometimes I think too well. "They" always say kids are resilient; I'd have to agree. I don't think I've ever shared this picture, but for those that haven't seen this, here is our headstone. Seems weird seeing your name on a headstone. I find it somewhat comforting just to go out and sit by her.  Still all seems weird.  Four and a half years we fought and fought, then bang, the end happened so fast.  Still in shock I guess.

Well, 2 posts in 3 days! Just wanted to take a minute and reflect. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011: Catch Up

The paragraphs below are posts that I've started over the past month but just couldn't bring myself to post.  Life keeps me really busy.  For the most part the kids and I are all doing fine.  We have a tough time coming up though with Kristi's birthday (Dec 17), Christmas and New Years Eve.  It's going to be a rough stretch but we stay strong knowing that the Lord will bring us comfort when we need and guidance when we're lost.  He hears our cries and He provides a firm foundation to stand.  We, with the help of your prayers, will land on a strong foundation.  I admit, I'm not 100% there yet.  My trust in my foundation crumbled a bit since Kristi passed.  As much as I was prepared, I wasn't even close to being prepared.  At times (which is still several times a week) I am still an emotional wreck.  I have re-started cleaning and organizing our storage rooms.  I came across all of her card stamping material and several "in process" cards that I cleaned and put in totes.  That was/is a very difficult process...many memories coming racing back as I find stuff.

Anyway, we're all managing and for the most part doing OK.  I appreciate your continued prayers over the next few weeks as we get deeper into the holiday season.  Pray that I will remember that the Rock on which I stand will never crumble and that the kids and I will be wrapped in His ever present arms.

Just in case I don't post until after Christmas - Have a great Christmas!

Previous attempts to post:

Sunday, November 13, 2011:  Thoughts
I was talking to a friend recently and he mentioned that he checked the blog recently and noticed that my last update was October 9.  Yeah, he was correct.  It's been over a month.  I still find it very difficult to look at the blog.  I can't bring myself to putting a new picture on the title of the blog.

I held back on the last post because I was not in a real good place then.  Truth has it, I'm still not.  Each and every day is a struggle.  Sunday's are the worst.  I sit in church and look around at all the happy families.  Kristi was everything to me.  I am physically here, but my heart went in that grave with Kristi.  Not sure what really to say at this point.  Believe it or not, this was only delivered a couple months ago.  I procrastinated in ordering it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011: ??
The next 4 weeks are going to be brutal - Thanksgiving tomorrow, setting up the Christmas tree on Friday (family tradition that was always led by Kristi), Kristi's birthday (December 17), Christmas, then  new year's eve.  Prayers for the family and I through this season would be appreciated.

I try not to walk around all mopey and everything, and for the most part I'm always focused on the task at hand so I don't have much alone time to sit around and dwell (which is a good thing).  Sometimes I wonder if the business hasn't allowed me to grieve.  I have been so insanely busy since school started that I literally crash every night.  My day starts at 6:15 and ends when the last child goes to bed (usually around 9:30).  Then I crash on the couch and read all the e-mail from school, church, etc.  Then the old fashioned kind of mail is next.  Oh, then the really old fashioned voicemail.  Then I go to bed around 11 and repeat this cycle Monday - Friday.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011: Emotions

I often get asked "so how are you doing?" or "are you adjusting to your new normal OK?"  Can I be honest with you?  I feel like I can be honest with you.  Well, here's the truth:  life sucks right now.  That's how I feel 99.9% of the time.  Truth is, I haven't moved on;  I can't let go.  The reminders are daily, and multiple times a day.  I waffle back and forth from "it's been 3 months already!" to "it's only been 3 months?!  it seems like forever ago".

Back to that first statement, "it's been 3 months already!".  The memories are still vivid.  The emotions are still raw.  The hurt is still very very real.  Right now I'm in the guilt phase.  Could I have done more?  What if we stayed down the chemo path?  what if I intervened more at Hospice?  what if...

I know, all irrational thoughts, but thoughts and questions I ask myself every day nonetheless.  Just one more hug.  One more kiss.  One more "I love you".  What Kristi and I had was special.  Everyone probably says that about their marriage, but Kristi and I were so meant for each other.  Sure, I have lots of memories and am grateful for the 22 years we shared together, but I just feel like I got jipped out of 20 more.

I started this 2 weeks ago and have so much more to say, but I'll leave that for another post or this will never get posted.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Love Gun

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011: Where'd The Summer Go?!

Blink.  Summer's gone!  This summer has been absolutely crazy busy, hence the reason I've done a terrible job keeping up with the blog.  Since Kristi passed away, the kids have kept me running on all cylinders and into turbo mode.  But, it's all been good.

This summer Ashley went to Camp Geneva for a week, Colorado for 9 days, Cedar Point with the middle school youth group, Wisconsin for a week on a service project, and of course a sleep-over every chance she could get...hmmm, maybe it's me she's trying to avoid?!  :)

Oh yeah, she also turned 14 in July (8th grade)!!  On her birthday I let her get a taste of driving and let her drive our van around the church parking lot.  I captured a little video of the adventure:

Nathan also has had a busy summer.  He also went to Camp Geneva for a week and has had several play dates.  Nathan and I had a 'boys outing' and went to Cedar Point for 2 days then caught a Tiger game on our way home (Tigers won, 4-1).  As an extra bonus to a great game Comerica Park had family firework night and put on a great firework show after the game.  While we were at Cedar Point we camped in our new van (I'll get to that later) and in Detroit we stayed downtown thanks to some free nights built up on my American Express.  Nathan just had a birthday too...he turned 11 (5th grade)
And here are some videos of the roller coasters...

Even though Emily is only 7, she has had a very busy summer as well.  She has had some very special friends in her preschool and kindergarten classes that have kept her busy with a number of play dates.  She will be going into the first grade this year so she's got a big shock coming to her...getting up early every day!!  Here are some pictures of her I took last week for her 1st grade school pictures...
As far as me, see first four paragraphs!  Managing 3 kids' summer schedules has been nearly a full time job.  Speaking of full-time jobs, I went back to work full time 3 weeks after Kristi's funeral and it has been extremely busy at work.  We're hiring again so that's been very's been a long time (I work for JCI who is a supplier in the auto industry).  It's great to be busy again!  In addition to working and navigating the kids' schedules, I did manage to go on my annual 'man trip' with my buddies.  In fact, I'm sitting in the back of my van right now (Saturday) typing this...we're on our way home from a 4 day island adventure on Beaver and Garden Islands.  2 of my buddies own zodiacs so we took the ferry to Beaver Island then zodiac'd to Garden Island.  Here are some pictures...
And as I mentioned before, we got a new van.  I listed our 2000 Grand Caravan on Craig's List as sort of a joke but had callers within only a few hours.  Less than 24 hours after I posted the Grand Caravan was gone!  So, I entered the new car market.  Fortunately, my parents had a vehicle they weren't using so they "sold" it to me.  It's a brand spanking new 1994 Chevy full size conversion van complete with a TV/VCR and a plush lavender interior!  For a 1994 it's in immaculate condition.  The kids and I have been enjoying the van all summer:  Ashley and I went camping with it for one night at our favorite camping spot with good friends and Nathan and I camped in it for two nights while at Cedar Point.  We also drove the van on our annual man trip which made the ride to and from much more relaxing and enjoyable.  Thanks to modern technology we're able to stay "connected" while traveling.  This van will get lots of use!

So that's been our schedule this past summer.  How are we all doing emotionally since Kristi passed away?  Well, I’ll save that for my next post or I’ll never get this thing posted!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011: Still Busy

Craziness.  That’s how I describe the past 2 months!  But a good crazy, I guess.  Ashley has been going nonstop since June – Camp Geneva for a week, Colorado for 9 days with her cousin’s youth group, Cedar Point, was a helper in VBS last week (getting bit, scratched, kicked by 5 year olds!) and now she’s gone again for a week with our church’s middle school doing a service project in Wisconsin!  She was actually signed up for a soccer camp last week as well but she decided maybe she needed to rest.  Ya think?! 

The other kids are doing well also although not nearly as busy as their older sister.  Last week Nathan was at Camp Geneva and this week Nathan and Emily are at my parent’s trailer near the Traverse City/Leelanau Peninsula area.  So, if you’ve been following…Ashley’s gone.  Nathan’s gone.  Emily’s gone.  YEEEHAAAAAAA!!!!!!!

Daddy gets his first break in months!!!  NO KIDS!!!!!!   Shoot, Ashley can read this.  Oh well.  Love ya honey.  YEEEHAAAAAAAA.  WOOHOOOOOOOO!!!!!!  

Well, I do have to work.  I’m back to work full time again.  Last week I made it in before 8 everyday and this week I’m one for one!  The transition back to work has gone better than expected.  I guess I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it’s been good.  My boss had been telling me it was best for me to get back to work sooner rather than later just to get a sense of ‘normalcy’ back.  I think he was right.  Of course I’d never admit that to him, but I believe he was. 

I’ll be posting pictures from this summer later this week since I’ll have some “free time”.  Pictures from Ashley’s trip to CO, Nathan at Camp Geneva and some general pictures of what the kids and I have been up to.  Oh, did I mention Ashley turned 14 on July 24!?!!?!?  AHHHHHHHHH.  I took her driving in the church parking lot…and of course…got some great video!

Kristi’s dad also put together a video of the burial service…it was quite amazing.  When I get that I’ll upload it to Youtube and post it.  It is just as beautifully powerful as it is emotionally lamenting.  That afternoon when we arrived at the cemetery the rain had stopped as if God had hit the pause button, the sky brightened (the sun even poked through for a few seconds), the musical chirping of the birds provided a peacefully still ambiance, and the graveside service was beautifully administered.  It was just beautiful.  Sad, but beautiful.

That’s all for tonight…


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011: Been a While

I haven’t updated in a while.  I know.  To be honest, it hurts too much to open up the blog.  In fact, for this update I am typing in Microsoft Word and cutting and pasting into the blog.  When I open up the blog I see that smile; I see her, and it brings it all back.  Just typing this I had to run up to my bedroom and cry (so the kids didn’t see me). 

Anyway, we’re all managing here.  Ashley is keeping very busy.  Nathan is still very quiet.  He opened up a little bit in his last visit with his counselor.  Then there’s Emily.  She hasn’t really missed a beat.  I did decide to start her on some counseling as well. 

Overall, I think we’re probably all “on schedule” as far as the healing process goes.  I have started back to work nearly full time.  Getting out of bed is the most difficult part of my day…not because I’m lazy, but because it feels like I’m buried under 1,000 pounds of cement.  Once I get out I’m usually OK, but everyday it’s a struggle.  Next week I will try to begin going in at 8.  Before all of this, I was always in between 7:00/7:30.  This week it’s been a struggle to get in by 9:30.  So, we’ll see how it goes next week.  Pray that some of this weight will be lifted, and pray also that the hurt in the kids, whether visible or not, will begin to dissipate.  

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011: Ho Hum

Don't mean to be a downer debbie, but that's the mood I've been in lately.  Ashley is in Colorado this week so it's just me and the 2 younger kids...sure is lonely around the house.  Been down in the dumps since last Thursday...waiting to snap out of it.  Yesterday was hard...yesterday was 1 month.  It's still so surreal.  is she coming back?  The little kid in me wishes this was all a bad nightmare...maybe I'll wake up and she'll be lying next to me.

I's not going to happen.  It's hard to find joy in anything...I'm still emotionally numb.

It'll get better...


Monday, July 4, 2011

Monday, July 4, 2011: Taking Some Bigger Steps

Last week was a big week as far as the emotional recovery goes.  I went back to work for a few hours Thursday and Friday (was very nervous/anxious/apprehensive about going back) AND we went to church yesterday.  These things seem simple to everyone I'm sure, but in my shoes they are big steps.

Today we went to the beach for the afternoon with friends and had a great time...even showed the younger dads and even some college kids that a 42 year old can still play a mean game of sand football.  I think I was the oldest one, can that be for real?!  Anyway, I got good and fried but the kids for the most part didn't get too sunburned.  They use this stuff that supposedly blocks the sun, or something like that.  They wipe it all over their body and they don't get sunburned.  Crazy.  Not me though.  Nope.  No way.  My face should be done peeling by 2 weeks from next Tuesday and I'll be good to go again!

After the beach we came home and showered and were off for a grill out with some other friends.  After that we all went to some other friends and watched the fireworks off of lake Mac.  Busy day but lots of fun.

One thing is for is tired!

Thank you all so much for the prayers over the past few weeks.  It's been, and will continue to be, a tough road. You guys are awesome!


Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011: 3 Weeks

9:55PM was the official time of death.  The gasp she made and the look on her face still haunt me.  I can still see it like it was yesterday.  I hate it, absolutely hate it.  Yes, I'm "OK", but I still hate it.  The pain is still very raw.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011: Baby Steps

That's what we're taking...


Saturday, June 25, 2011

June 25, 1989: Kristi and I Meet

grieve 1  (ɡriːv) [Click for IPA pronunciation guide]
— vb feel or cause to feel great sorrow or distress, esp at thedeath of someone

That's the definition of 'grieve' according to  Yup, that's an accurate description.  The pain is still very raw.  Today, I turned around in the bathroom and I saw some of her jewelry hanging on a stand on the counter.  Seems like just yesterday she was wearing that.  That led into me sorting through all of her jewelry...including the little pouch that the funeral home returned Friday.  Inside the pouch was her wedding ring and what she had on at visitation.  

22 years ago tonight Kristi and I met in Grand Haven. I was driving the circuit with a friend and she was walking the boardwalk with a friend. I shouted something really smooth out the window as we drove by and I had her hook, line and sinker! (I believe it was something like "hey babe!"). The rest, as they say, is history. I only remember the date because it is exactly 6 months to Christmas...and of course, Kristi bought me a 6 month anniversary present...on Christmas day...and I said, 'um, whuuut?' So that's how I always remembered our meeting date.  But, in my defense, her birthday is December 17.  So, I had to cover her birthday (which she made perfectly clear on our 2nd date - you NEVER combine a birthday present and Christmas present), and Christmas!  There's no way she could have expected me to remember our 6 month anniversary date, right?!  I didn't think so either!

It's been another tough week. So many things around the house remind me of Kristi. Jewelry, clothes, books, hand written notes to remind her to do something, her last scribbles she made in her final days, etc.  Everything.  I was describing to a friend the other day that everything in this house is Kristi.  Every time I turn around there she is.  It seems like yesterday she was walking through this house.  It all happened so fast.  

We did get out Wednesday and visited some friends at a cottage they rented.  A day of sea-doo'ing, tubing and fun was just what we needed.  On the ride home Ashley said, "Dad, that was the funnest day of summer break!".  We need more of those days!

Nathan, me, and Ashley


Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011: Celebrating Kristi's Life

Here is the video that was shared during Kristi's funeral service...

Kristi Rogalske, the Courage to Shine from Calvary Church on Vimeo.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011: Father's Day 2011

Well, nothing like starting off this new life with a big holiday:  Father's Day.  Kristi used to take all the kids shopping and get me something special for Father's Day.  Then there was always Kristi to burden most of the "duties" on Father's Day to give me, the father, a day all to myself; whatever I wanted to do.  Yup, kick back and yell to the kids to bring me this, bring me that.  OK, so maybe it didn't work quite like that, but Father's Day in the past was always a very special day.

It was different this year.  For one, we didn't go to church...not ready for that yet.  There was no Kristi next to me in bed to wake up to...and my traditional bad joke... "well baby, better get ready to work some OT today!".  Just woke up to silence...which I guess is a blessing...and it will be, in time.  After taking a shower I went downstairs to my three kids...all sitting at the dining table.  They had "prepared" breakfast (bagels), had my cup of coffee ready and all greeted me with an exuberant "happy Father's Day!".  It was quite awesome!

After breakfast we went over to the couch where each one presented their gift and card to me.  It was quite beautiful.  After reading Emily's card she said "turn it over, Daddy, I drewed (her way of saying 'drew') a picture on the back, look, it's our family, all 5 of us."  She had drawn 5 little stick figures representing our family.  Then she went on to say "I even drewed mommy".  Yup, you sure did, dear.You sure did.  I held it in for as long as I could and after Nathan and Emily left the room I lost it.  Just lost it.  Started crying.  Ashley was sitting behind me and started rubbing my back...then she started crying.  I stopped crying and gathered myself long enough to hold it in while the kids got distracted again.  Then I quickly left the room and went upstairs to my bedroom...where I cried like I've never cried before.  I just cried and cried.  Loud cries.  Even slammed my fist on the night stand.  I grabbed a pillow and just held it like it was Kristi.  After 10 or 15 minutes Ashley came up and tried consoling me.  She is just like her mother.  But I just kept crying.  I couldn't stop myself.  I can't believe this.  Seems like just yesterday she was here.

Ashley captured this video of Kristi playing Mario you can tell by her reaction, she won.  :)  Keep in mind when watching this video that Kristi was in a great amount of pain.  But, that was Kristi, full of life and enjoying every minute of it.  For us, a cherished memory for sure.  This was one of the last videos of Kristi...

I miss her so bad...more than words can express.  Please pray for the hurt to start the healing process.

I've been asked several times if I am going to keep going with the blog.  For now, yes.  The story isn't done here.  Kristi left a legacy, a legacy we're going to keep alive.  I'll update through our struggles, our grieving, our journey to redefine what "normal" will be like, my struggles with becoming a dad trying to raise 3 children...2 of them girls (yikes), etc.  I know Kristi would want me to keep the blog going.  So, yes, I intend on keeping it going...who knows, maybe Ashley will become my new writing partner.  I said "maybe" Ashley...don't get your hopes up.  :)  hi honey, I love you!!

Until next time, thanks for continuing to hold us up in prayer!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011: Adjusting

Wow, what a whirlwind the past 8 weeks have been.  Everything happened so fast.  It's still hard to process that she's really gone.  It just seems like yesterday that...

The funeral service yesterday was incredible.  I've heard many people say "the most moving funeral service they've ever attended".  I agree!  What a tribute to an amazing woman.

We're all adjusting to life without mom.  It's been hard so far, but we're only a few days into it.  "They tell me time heals".  When people make similar comments the cynical part of me always wants to ask who the "they" is they're speaking about...but anyway, I'm counting on it...I'll add "Time, and prayer, heals"

I'll write more soon.  I need to get some stuff done.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011: Funeral & Visitation Info.

2 visitations:
Monday, June 13, from 6:00 - 9:00 PM
Tuesday, June 14, from 4:00 - 7:00 PM

Langeland-Sterenberg Funeral Home
315 E 16th Street
Holland, MI  49423

Wednesday, June 15, at 4:00 PM

Calvary Christian Reformed Church
400 Beeline Road
Holland, MI 49424


Saturday, June 11, 2011: Kristi is Finally Home

Kristi passed away peacefully last night with her mom and dad, Aunt Diane, and myself at her side. She is now resting cancer-free, pain free, and most importantly, in the comforting arms of Jesus. After all that she has been through over the past 4 and a half years, we take solace knowing that she has finally met Jesus.  I’m sure that He was just as captivated as we all were by her great big, contagious smile when she came running towards Him. 

Last week, Kristi said this: "When I get to heaven, I'll get as close as I can to the front row and I’ll save you all seats."

The following days, weeks and months we will mourn for her loss, we will miss her gentleness and we will yearn for one of those heart-warming smiles.  But rest assured, God will be our provider of comfort, healing and understanding, and one day we too will be united with Jesus.

Visitation and funeral information will follow.

I love you Kristi and will miss you until we meet again.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011: Checked Out

Kristi is awake quite a bit during the day but to say she's lucid during that time would be a gross overstatement.  I spent most of the morning and the early afternoon with her (at one time we even snuggled in her bed) but yet, when her dad was sitting next to her later in the afternoon she asked him "has Brian been here today?"  Ouch.

Often times she will ask a question and you give her an answer, then she will look into space for several seconds, then ask you "what are you talking about?"  Many times it's very difficult to even determine what she's talking about.  This is quite a change even from yesterday.

She has also developed quite a rattle in her breathing.  It's so hard to listen to.  It just seems from day to day there are some pretty significant changes happening.  I realize this is all a normal progression of "the process", but it sucks (ir)regardless.

I watched her tonight and just cried.  Then cried some more.  And then some more.  It really hurts just sitting on the sideline watching someone die; and die slowly.  When you ask her she says she doesn't feel any discomfort, so that's somewhat comforting.

There was one nice surprise today...Aunt Diane arrived from Mexico.  We don't get to see her much so she is always good to see...and Kristi was very happy to see her.

Anyway, that's where we're at.  Good night.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011: A Sweet Embrace

Not much to report out on Kristi today...she just continues to get weaker and weaker.  The tumor on the left side of her neck that she had radiation treatments for has grown quite large.  You can see a very prominent lump under her left ear about the size of an egg...maybe sticks out about 5 - 10mm.  Her spirits remain very high as she continues to delight the nurses and doctors with her humor.  She is going out with grace, dignity, humor, beauty, and can look back on her life and say "I made a difference". 

This whole experience is surreal.  Kristi summed it up best when she said: "so you're all just basically sitting around waiting for me to die."  To which I replied:  "well, honey, you can word it that way I guess, but I prefer to say 'we're waiting for you to go running into Jesus' arms.' "  Then she says..."you're funny". 

I look at her and ask myself 'could I be in her spot and be as calm and peaceful as her?'  I have to be honest...I think I'd be scared to...well, death.  She just lies there as if to say to herself "OK, any day now". 

Ashley came to visit with her today.  This was a risky decision but after her last visit when their separation was enough to break the heart of even the toughest, most hardened criminal, I felt I had to bring her back for a better "good-bye".  Sure glad I did!  Seeing the look on Kristi's face when she saw Ashley was priceless.  It was her biggest smile of the day; she even reached out to hug her.  It was a very sweet moment.  The two of them just chatted for about 10 minutes about who knows what.  Doesn't matter.  There was a big embrace and maybe just a couple of tears this time when it was time to go.  After Ashley left the room Kristi reached for me to hug and as we hugged she whispered into my ear "thank you, that was the best decision ever".  Whew!  I was nervous, but Ashley did awesome.  She has matured so much through this ordeal it is amazing.  She is amazing.  And I know she's reading this so don't let it go to your head.  Clean your room.  Love you!

OK, enough for tonight.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday, June 6, 2011: No Update Tonight



Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday, June 5, 2011: Day 12 - Expressions

We've been blessed these past 2 days by a return of some Kristi, just to clarify.  The doctor stopped one of her meds and she has regained some alertness.  Today we all (Kristi's family and I) spoke to her at different times and we all got an "I love you".  This morning when I came back (I slept at home last night) I got a great big smile and a hug and my "I love you" that I have been craving.  It was so nice.  She can only whisper a few words at a time but she whispered the ones we've all been wanting to hear - "I love you".

Tuesday will mark 2 weeks without food and 1 week without water.  The only thing she has eaten for the past 2 weeks has been a few ice chips.  Her arms are looking very frail and her face is very thin.  When I spoke to her yesterday she whispered softly into my ear "very peaceful, very quiet, very still".  When I was reading to her this morning I read some random Psalms, one of which was Psalm 4...Psalm 4 ends with this verse: "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."  How fitting!

I had to leave the kids again tonight.  That's getting to be a tougher and tougher process.  I can tell it's really starting to wear on the kids.  The hugs are getting longer...less willing to let go; the eyes are getting tearier; their faces sadder.  They're getting tired; they miss their daddy.  They miss some resemblance of normal - whatever that ends up being.  Pray for the kids tonight. 

That's all for tonight.  Kristi needs some more ice chips.  Gotta go!

Good night.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011: Day 10

When we arrived at Hospice by ambulance last week Tuesday I certainly didn't think we would be here 10 days!  The morning after we checked in our case manager nurse here at the Hospice House said "it could be a week to 10 days".  I thought to myself "you're crazy, lady!".  Man, she must not have read Kristi's report, I thought to myself.  Well, here we are...10 days later!

Although this week and a half has been somewhat therapeutic for me (and Kristi's family) to get my last "good-bye" in and my last hug and "I love you", it hasn't been a whole lot of fun for Kristi.  They have the pain meds now to a point where she doesn't feel anything...and for me, that's the most important thing.  I have to admit, when I hop in her bed and snuggle up next to her before I go to bed at night it feels really good.  Her skin is so warm, so soft.  Sigh.

Kristi's sister got a nice surprise tonight...when Lori was telling Kristi good-bye for the night Kristi opened her eyes and mouthed two "I love you's" to Lori!  Wow.  I'm glad Lori was here for that...she needed that!  Man, that was incredible!! 

Well, that's all for day number 10.  Until day 11, have a good night....time to go snuggle!!


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thursday, June 2, 2011: Like Mother Like Daughter...

Oh, the memories we have together,

I sure do wish they could last forever.

I don't understand why God is calling you home,

but there is a reason, that is for now, unknown.

We always walked together, but now we must part.

I want you to know, that you are always, in my heart.
by: Ashley Rogalske

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011: Hospice Day 8

Day 8 is ending much like day 7 began...with Kristi nearly unresponsive to any verbal or physical interaction.  She is down to very few words a day.  In fact, I have not heard her speak once today.  But, apparently when I was home saying 'hi' to the kids she spoke to the nurse:  the nurse told Kristi she was going to give her some more pain meds to which Kristi replied "awe, you're so nice."  Seriously, this is what she said!  Keep in mind she's hardly spoken for 2 days!!  Now why doesn't that surprise me?! 

It's very difficult to see her like she is right now.  It's just not her.  She's flat on her back, pale, very still, her only movement is when her body twitches, the only noise she makes is when she gasps for air, and her mouth is open because her jaw muscles have relaxed.  It's tough to look at, just plain tough.  This past week has sucked every last bit of emotion out of me.  At times I feel like a walking emotionless zombie...all my emotions have been tapped out. Drained. Empty.

Tonight, after visiting with the kids for a while, Nathan had tears in his eyes when it was time for me to come back to the Hospice House.  He didn't want me to leave.  Oh man, the things that must be going through his mind.  Last night Ashley was begging me to stay home and tonight Nathan has these big tears in his eyes.

I feel like I'm being attacked from every angle; like someone is trying to make me crack.  That 'someone' keeps forgetting about you guys - our prayer warriors!  This is some of the most gut wrenching stuff ever to live through and we are very fortunate to have thousands of people all over the world praying for us.  So we try to keep this in mind (I read this to Kristi today):

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

I'll end with that.  Good night.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011: Peacefully Resting

After a rough night of pain and panic attacks last night Kristi finally rested peacefully today.  This comes at a price of course as she is now pretty much unresponsive.  It's very difficult to see her like she is now - very still, too still.  She has been unresponsive since this morning.  I rubbed her cheek tonight with my cheek and whispered "I love you" into her ear and she responded by grabbing my hand and I know she heard me. 

I had a chance to read through a bunch of poems Kristi has written throughout the years and came across this one she wrote when her grandma died:

Final Goodbye
Death is such a difficult thing
and so hard to comprehend.
So many broken hearts
that do not quickly mend.
I just don’t understand
why people have to die.
It grieves my heart so badly
to see my family cry.
I know that death is better
than living here on earth,
for our treasure is in heaven
after that miraculous rebirth.
The pain I feel right now
will slowly fade away,
but the memories I have of you grandma –
they are here to stay.

There are several more dealing with depression, anxiety, grief and faith and they are all very powerful.  Many of these I have never read.  What an amazing legacy she will leave behind; I am so proud of her. 

That's all I can muster up tonight for an update.  Tired.  Emotionally drained.  Physically drained.  mentally drained. 

Good night.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday, May 30, 2011: Can She Come Home Now?

Lord, please take her.  End her suffering.  Please please please...


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011: Getting Physical

Blog entry number 700.  Who would have thunk it?!

The changes in Kristi are becoming more apparent as her physical appearance is starting to change.  The most noticeable change I saw today was in her arms.  Her face is appearing thinner but her arms have become very bony.  It was probably a gradual progression all week but I just noticed her arms today.  It startled me when I noticed them;  freaked me out.  I had to leave her room and go cry in the hallway.  I didn't know what else to do. 

Tonight I finally got around to transferring some pictures from my camera to Kristi's laptop.  I had some pictures from Ashley's last soccer game.  I got some really sweet action shots of Ashley that I wanted to show Kristi. 
When I told her about them she looked like she knew what I was talking about and acted like she wanted to see them.  I got excited and was going to get the laptop when she started talking about something I couldn't understand.  When I asked her about the pictures again she said "what pictures?  Oh I'm so confused.  What am I supposed to do?" and she started talking about wanting to "go right now".  Sigh.  Thought I had her back for a moment.  I know, I know.  I need to let go; and I have...for the most part...but every now and then she appears very coherent and it's so nice to get those moments...just wish they would another 40 years maybe.

Speaking of pictures, here is a picture of our weekend getaway about 3 weekends ago.  We received an anonymous gift of a 2 night stay at the downtown Grand Rapids JW Marriott.  It was the week leading up to this getaway weekend when Kristi's pain really began to intensify.  Even though Kristi was in a great deal of pain all weekend and spent most of it in bed, we did have a great time.  We had adjoining rooms which made it very convenient for having a "boys' room and girls' room" for the first night and the 2nd night Nathan and I had "movie night" in mom and dad's room.  After the movie I kicked Nathan out of course in exchange for Kristi.  :)  Anyway, here is a family picture I took as we were packing up to leave.

Thank you to the anonymous donors!


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011: Progressing

Another noticeable decline in Kristi's connection with reality today.  Very little emotion when you speak with her.  Not many smiles today at all either.  When you talk to her she has a blank stare.  It's all a normal progression of the dying process but is hard to just sit and watch.  Kristi's parents and brother were here most of the day with me which helped make the day go faster...I also had a chance to take a break and go home for a bit this afternoon...that was very nice.

The nurse makes it sound like it could be a few more days...brutal.

Anyway, I thought I would share this note from Nathan's 5th grade teacher and class (with her permission):

"Dear Parents,

Today we presented Nathan with a prayer blanket. Each child spent time by the blanket in prayer for Nathan and his family. Then they tied a knot on the blanket to symbolize the prayer that was offered on the Rogalske's behalf. We then gathered as a whole class with Nathan and his blanket and prayed a special prayer over him. It was evident that Nathan was honored by our symbol of love and care for him. Please take a moment to view these pictures and see the Christian love that our students exhibit for each other. Then please pray a prayer for the Rogalske's as Kristi is nearing her heavenly homecoming."

What an amazing school!



Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011: Fading and Bittersweet

Though the physical change in Kristi was less dramatic today, her level of consciousness is heartbreaking.  Remember that lit up face and great big heart warming smile I talked about's dimmed to little more than a slight flicker.  She still recognized me this morning, but it was a struggle for her to muster up even a very slight smile.  It broke my heart.  Sure, I know she is nearing the end, but nothing like reality kicking you right in the gut.  It literally took my breath away.  I felt alone and isolated.  "This is it" I thought to myself.  There's nothing I can do but watch. 

It's evening now and her parents left a while ago.  While they were here I went home to say good bye to the kids for the weekend (Kristi's sister is taking them).  After the kids and Lori left I just sat on the staircase for a while.  The silence was deafening.  As I walked around the house I saw Kristi in every room.  I just wandered around the house aimlessly...sobbing.  Kristi was such a big piece of my life puzzle.  She was the glue that held this family together.  I now will have to rely only on memories.  Fortunately, I have taken over 13,000 pictures since we've been married.  All of the photos pre-digital I have scanned and made into digital files.  Whenever you come over to our house you can always find at least one computer scrolling through the pictures (screen saver).  I love to watch them, but it does bring back a lot of memories. 

God will give us the strength to get through this, I have no doubt about that and Kristi will get her wish soon.  I am very excited for her on one hand, but can't help but be overwhelmingly sad on the other.  Bittersweet, that's what it is.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011: The Bravest Person I've Ever Met

How many of us could be (literally) on our death bed, in our final moments, each breath a struggle, every word nearly impossible to speak, be completely honest and say "I wish he'd beam me up already!"?  That's what Kristi said today...that's my girl!  She is the bravest, most courageous woman I know.

This girl is amazing.  She is so excited to get to heaven she is getting frustrated at waiting.  The other night she was chanting "take me now, take me now, take me now".  When I sit in the lounging area of our room sometimes I just stare at her.  She sleeps most of the time but when she wakes up and sees me, her face just lightens up, her eyes open as wide as they possibly can and she gets this great big smile.  Then she nods off again.  But for those 3 or 4 seconds my heart just melts. It doesn't matter if it's the first time of the day or the 100th time of the day...every time she smiles at me like it's the first time.  I will miss that smile the most. 

What keeps me going is how excited she gets when she talks about meeting Jesus face to face.  She is so ready to go and that brings some healing to the hole that will be left in our hearts.  I asked her today if she wanted me to post a prayer request on her behalf.  This is her prayer request:

"God, please take Kristi home to Jesus now; she is ready"

When I told Ashley this, she said behind a face drenched with a steady flow of tears, "then that's what we have to pray for, Dad".  I lost it.  Absolutely lost it.

Thank you, Ashley, for your courage, and for reminding us "old" people that it's not always about us, about what we want.  You are wise beyond your years.  I love you, Dad.

Good night.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011: Still Peaceful

We brought Kristi to the Hospice House this afternoon to rest peacefully and that is what she is doing.  She looks so peaceful right now.  Sorry to those friends and family that wanted to visit with her but couldn't.  She went very quickly.  Hard to believe just 3 weeks ago she was attending soccer games, driving the kids to school, laughing, smiling, etc.  Just a little more than a week ago we were visiting with friends in the neighborhood street for over an hour.  And now we're down to her last hours.

This is a very tough time.  Thank you for all of the prayers...what an awesome display of Christian love you all have shown us.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011: Peaceful

Kristi's condition has turned very grave.  Her breathing has become very shallow and she is very weak.  Our Hospice nurse has said she is really down to her final few days, probably no more than 3. 

Kristi told our pastor tonight she is very peaceful and very ready to go; that brings a lot of comfort knowing where she is at emotionally and spiritually.  Please cover my family as well as Steve and Linda Kammeraad, Kevin (brother) and Stephanie Kammeraad, Lori Fox (sister) and their kids in prayer. 

Thank you so so so much.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011: A Better Morning

After about 3:00AM, Kristi slept about a 3 hour stretch.  This is the longest stretch she's had in quite a while...that felt good for both of us.  The day is off to a good start!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011: On the Decline

Kristi's condition continues to decline.  Her coherent moments are becoming less frequent and shorter in duration.  She is very confused and hallucinates often.  This is very difficult to watch.  She is up every 15-30 minutes at night to go to the bathroom.  Today she got a catheter in but she thinks she has to go so she gets up anyway.  She then goes to the bathroom and slips in and out of alertness while on the toilet...this can last up to 30-45 minutes. 

When she sees family her mind is still very much "with it", but then she is usually confused after they leave.  "Who was here today?" 

Very difficult.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011: Update on Kristi

I haven't updated on Kristi's condition in a while because we had many family and friends we needed to talk to first.  This change came on very sudden.  3 weeks ago she was driving, picking the kids up after school, going to soccer games, having coffee with friends, etc. then out of nowhere, it seems, everything stopped.  The swelling in her feet became unbearable.  Her stomach has grown to what she describes as "7 months pregnant".  It is really unbelievable. 

She is pretty much in bed 24 hours a day.  She spends most of her time in our bedroom, but usually for a bit in the morning and in the evening she comes down to her hospital bed in the living room.  She is on a good amount of pain control medication (aka morphine) which makes her pretty incoherent and confused much of the day.  But, she still has her sense of humor and that cute little smile. 

Well, it's been an hour between putting everyone to bed and starting this so I'm going to go watch some meaningless TV.  I'll fill in more later.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011: New Beginnings

When I was younger I liked this song called "Closing Time" by a group named Semisonic.  There's a line in the song that I reflect on every time I hear the song: "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end". 

Together you, myself, and Kristi have bravely endured this cancer journey for four and a half years; a journey that has brought so many highs and so many lows; a journey that has spread God's word to all 50 states and over 80 countries across the world.  Together, we have done this and have proven that good things can come from life's most challenging circumstances.  Together, we have demonstrated how God's love can shine even in the darkest of times.

Our journey together began on January 23, 2007 and continues on through today.  Like most journeys, however, this journey too is drawing to an end and a new journey will soon begin.  When the new journey begins only God knows. 

Today, we are faced with the reality that Kristi is going Home to be with Jesus soon.  Her health has deteriorated to a point that makes Hospice believe we are down to but a few short weeks. God's work here with Kristi is almost complete and so we will, again together, mourn for her passing but celebrate the legacy she is leaving behind. 

For Kristi, however, a new journey begins:  Kristi will soon be walking side by side with Jesus.  I can see it now:  Kristi will be President of His card stamping club!  Something urgent must have come up (in heaven) that requires many new cards to be stamped that has made God decide He would like her sooner rather than later.  So it is. 

The coming weeks will be very emotional as she begins to say 'good-bye' to many of her friends.  Kristi has influenced so many people over the years that makes saying 'see you later' (instead of 'good-bye') to each and every one impossible.  If you're hearing of this for the first time by reading it on the blog we are very sorry.  Please understand.  You know Kristi:  if she could she would be going around to everyone personally...even our international followers.  :)

As I said, the next few weeks will be very emotional as she will soon not be able to have a coherent conversation much longer as things progress.  For right now, she is coherent a few hours a day...and those hours we cherish.  No one knows what tomorrow brings so for now we just live day to day.  I'm hoping that one day soon Kristi can muster enough energy for one more post; she has wanted to but just can't get the strength or focus. 

In the meantime, please continue to cover her, myself and the kids, her parents, sister and brother, and all the family in prayer.  Many prayers will be needed.  Thank you all so much!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011: This will be hard...

I'm sorry for not keeping up to date; I know the silence must be difficult for those that follow our blog.

We are not ready to share everything at this time but it's important that I share this with you:  know that Kristi's health has taken a sudden turn for the worse.  But also be comforted by the fact that she is getting very good care at home right now.  She still has a lot of pain and is very confused, but she can still smile and laugh so that helps.  I will share more when we get her stabilized, but right now things are a whirlwind.

At this time we're asking that only immediate family visit.  As I said, Kristi is very confused with everything going on and visitors coming and going makes her very unsettled. 

Thanks for understanding and I'll share more when I know more...because I am also very confused with everything going on.

For now, please pray for comfort, peace, guidance, strength and patience for our family over the next few weeks.  Thank you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011: Keep 'Em Coming

Please keep the prayers coming for Kristi.  She is still in a lot of pain and very uncomfortable all the time.  We're not quite sure what's happening at this point but what we do know is that she has a lot of pain and swelling.  Right now we are in need of many prayers.  Prayers for comfort for Kristi, understanding for the kids, and strength for me would be greatly appreciated. 

Perseverance.  We will persevere.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday, May 8, 2011: Prayers

I don't want to go into a lot of details right now but please pray hard for Kristi.  She has been in an extreme amount of pain since last week and needs comfort.  Thank you!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011: New Furniture...

Normally one would be excited and waiting in anticipation of the delivery of a new piece of furniture. You would have spent hours shopping for it together, debating back and forth whether you should go with plaid or a solid color, extra soft cushions for comfort? or firm cushions for better support? do you match the carpet or do you match the paint on the walls? So many choices to make and quite fun actually…and the new arrangement of furniture that would ensue…!

But not so much fanfare with the piece of furniture we’re getting delivered today. Nope. Not this one. Today is a bittersweet day: today we get the hospice bed delivered. Bittersweet because the bed will help with Kristi’s swelling and pain, but bad at the same time because we’re getting a hospice bed delivered; bad because of what the bed represents. We will try to decorate the bed and make it as cheery as possible for the kids, but for me, it will be a reminder of what’s yet to come. The pain she has yet to endure. The buckets of tears that will be shed over this bed.

For now we just wait. Wait for that truck to pull up in the driveway to deliver the bed.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011: Super Short Update

What a fast couple of days!  Basically both doctors appointments went well - they both thought I looked great!  We're going to make a few medication changes over the weekend to try to keep my pain managed . . . actually the goal is to get the medications to a place that I don't have any pain . . . . I think I like that goal :)

It was nice seeing Dr. VanderWoude  again and Dr. Phillips (the Hospice doctor) was very approachable, friendly and has my best interests as his first priority.  What we were expecting to be "downer, reality visits" were actually really good visits.  Yea God :)

I will update more another day . . . right now the only thing that sounds good is going to bed.  Thanks for the prayers!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011: Resurrection

Resurrection.  That's a big word.  Four syllables.  I can still remember teaching Ashley how to spell the word "resurrection" in first grade.  It was a "bonus" word and I thought how in the world am I going to teach my tiny little girl this great big word. 

I had a brainstorm.  It is a big word but if you break it down it has a fun rhythm to it.  First we learned "res", then "urr", "ect", and "ion".  Before long she was chanting "res". . . "urr". . . "ect" . . ."ion".  And then just a few years later Nathan had the same thing when he was in first grade and he conquered that word just the same way his sister did!

Resurrection was a word we heard often in yesterdays sermon.  Not only is it a big word with lot of syllables and letters but it is a powerful word.   In the sermon we learned about the power that word can have in our lives.  I've looked up the definition for resurrection and there are so many different ways to define it but basically - Jesus died and rose from the dead - resurrection!.  It doesn't get more basic than that.  That is power.  And He lives in me.  That power lives within me.

God has been very "vocal" with me lately.  I've had devotional after devotional hit me right between the eyes.  Songs feel like they are being sung to me.  Bible verses just jump off the page.  Some days I feel like He is saying that I need to prepare myself for "reality".  Other days I feel like a miracle is coming and that I need to pray harder and bolder.   I'll be honest - I keep trying to "twist" what I am hearing to my liking - to try and make them "my" plans.

I have had a lot of swelling and pain recently.  I don't like pain. Pain makes my reality much more real.  And I don't like seeing my family watch me in pain.  I have an appointment with my oncologist this week and also with the Hospice doctor.  These will both be "reality" checks and I know the details that we will be given will be hard to hear.

I mentioned that my devotionals have been very personal lately.  Yesterday's spoke even louder and it was very hard for me to "hear".   Actually, I heard it loud and clear, it's the "accepting" part that I'm struggling with.  This devotion talked about genuine faith.   Genuine faith means we need to "hand our circumstances over to God allowing Him to work".  She referenced Psalm 37:5 "commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this".  He will never work until we commit.  Yikes.  How can He work out His plans for me when I'm still holding onto them?

I will end with a story the writer shared in the devotional from the same day - this is the part that I struggle with.  It is a letter that a young man wrote to an elderly mother who was extremely worried about the condition of her son.  He wrote "You are worrying too much about him.  Once you have prayed for him, as you have done, and committed him to God, you should not continue to be anxious.  If we truly have cast our burdens upon another, can they continue to pressure us?  If we carry them with us from the throne of grace, it is obvious we have not left them there

Yikes again.  It is obvious to me that I have not left everything with Him with regards to my life. I can't do that on my own though.  Which I guess brings me back to that big, long, powerful word . . . . resurrection.  Jesus rose from the dead. That's power.  He lives in me.  That power is in me through the Holy Spirit. 

Right now I picture a sky filled with bright colorful balloons.  They are all my hopes and dreams and prayers and fears and requests and I'm sending them up to God.  I want to let them all go.  All of them.  But I have a few strings and I've tied them to my finger.  They are tied on tightly. 

I also have a huge, huge, huge prayer network out there reading this update (if you've made it with me through this long one!!).  Right now I ask for prayers that I can let go of those last strings.  I'm not giving up . . . . I'm giving up control to the One who sees the whole picture and to the One who knows what is best for me.

Please also pray this prayer for Brian and the kids.  We are all at such different places in dealing with this.  No matter what - I want this time with my family to be centered around God and His plans for our family and that again, no matter what - it is all done for His glory.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin.  let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Hebrews 4:15-16

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011: Very Short Update

I talked to my nurse today and we've "tweaked" some medications.  I also started an antibiotic because I may have a bladder infection.  I've noticed some improvement already today with the swelling and pain.  I still have both but they are lessening and that means we're moving in the right direction.

Reality is still reality and it stinks.  But, less pain and bloating is a good thing.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday, April 17, 2011: Just Swell

I wish I could say everything is just swell, but I'd be lying.  The swelling and abdominal cramping is extremely painful and is wearing on her.  She has been having difficulty getting out of bed, standing up or even walking short distances.  It's very difficult to watch.  I feel like I'm standing on the sidelines watching my wife slowly die and there's nothing I can do but watch.  Just watch.  Watching one of the most loving and gentle people you will ever get to know suffer. 

Today was especially was our 18th wedding anniversary.  Without a miracle from God, our 18th and last...and that just plain sucks.  The day went by for the most part like any other we've had recently.  We didn't do anything special to celebrate.  No fancy hotel.  No fancy meal.  No fancy wine.  Nope.  Celebration would be bitter sweet.  Maybe later, just not today.

Tomorrow we'll be calling her oncologist to ask questions about the swelling.  We have heard of other cancer patients getting fluid drained (sometimes liters of fluid) so we want to ask.  And also ask her what's causing the swelling.  Is it normal?  Is it a side effect of one of her meds?  etc. 

Well, every one's in bed but me...time to wrap it up I guess.  Thanks for continued prayers.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011: Busy. Quiet. Still.

That sums up the past few weeks for us. We’ve been pretty busy living life; life seems to be pretty quiet right now and we’ve been quietly still as of late. As long as Kristi doesn’t overdo herself she’s been feeling OK. If you’ve seen her recently, yes, her face is swollen. We think it’s the steroids making her retain water. She has cut back on her steroids to half the dose - water retention is not uncommon with steroids.

She also has quite a bit of bloating in her stomach that at times can be extremely uncomfortable; this is the reason she walks around holding her stomach.

We enjoyed a nice trip to the Creation Museum ( in Northern Kentucky over spring break. We had enough Mariott points to earn 2 free nights stay so we stayed at a nice hotel downtown Cincinnati. At the museum the kids even got to ride a camel…so all was good.

Like I said, all in all, pretty quiet.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011: Thank You Times One Thousand!

Blown away. Shock and awe. Amazed. Humbled. Blessed. Very blessed. All those describe how we felt Saturday night and how we feel right now. What an amazing night. Whether you prayed for the event, helped organize it, donated to it, worked at it, or came and experienced it – THANK YOU! Over 800 dinner plates were served and over a thousand attended! We don’t have any final numbers yet, but it looks like we will be able to pay off all of our medical debt accrued over the last 4+ years with maybe $2,000 left over. Praise God!! God was at work all night; every detail was covered. Somehow the food that was planned for 600 stretched far enough to feed over 800, the chess tournament that was in the school before our event ended 2 hours early (which allowed the team to get in and set everything up), the weather was awesome and the people flooded through the doors all night long! It was so amazing to experience.

Based on all the smiles we saw it looked like everyone was having a good time. The mood was very upbeat all night long considering what the event was for. The "event organizers" (like that?!) did an amazing job at fostering an atmosphere of positive energy. In reality, this event was put together because someone is dying from cancer. Someone that was told they have only 6 months to live. If a stranger happened to walk into Holland Christian Saturday night they would have never guessed that from the atmosphere that filled the school that night! There was so much going on and so many people to talk to that we never thought of it that way.  It was just amazing!

The list of people to thank for planning, organizing and helping is far too long to list. From my point of view this is what you did for my family: you created an evening that my kids will remember for the rest of their lives. You created a moment in time where my entire family felt “extra special”. This event created for my kids a tangible example of what faith, hope and love is all about. My kids will always remember what the rewards are for remaining part of a community. A community will come together in times of need. It demonstrated to my kids how to “love thy neighbor as thyself”. I could go on and on. My point is that this night created a memory for my family that will be everlasting, so thank you so so so much.

What can a guy say?!  All of you had a significant impact on our lives. 

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011: Love Was Shining!

Love. That is the word that keeps coming into my head. Lots and lots of love. There was so much love shining at the fundraiser last night! There was the love of God. Everywhere. And the love of people. So many, many, many people!

We talked to the kids when we got home and although we were exhausted we all had an amazing time. Brian and I were able to separate ourselves somewhat "emotionally" from the fact that everything going on was for our family. I apologize if we seemed "underwhelmed" by the magnitude of everything . . . . it was just so surreal. As we talked to the kids it really started to sink in. We are touched beyond words at the love and support that has been shown to our family.

There are so many people to thank that we don't even know where to begin so for right now I want to focus on the one word that God keeps putting into my head. Love. That is what this all comes back to. God loves you. All of you - yes, each and every single person reading this blog - God loves you. We saw that love in emotional and tangible ways last night in words that can't be described.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.   1 Corinthians 13:13