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

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011: Finally An Update

It's been a long week.  A weird week.  A fast week.  Monday's appointment went as well as could be expected.  We still have details to finalize but I'm glad that we have a lot of the "pre-planning" done and a lot of decisions made. 

I've had some trouble with swelling this week but this morning I think my ankle actually looks normal!  I've noticed that my eating habits haven't been great lately . . . lots of comfort food.  I know people will tell me to eat what sounds good but in reality what I am eating is directly impacting how I feel so I need to make some better food choices. 

On the cold front with the kids I think we're okay . . . just a few sniffles but this crazy weather probably has something to do with that.  I loved the sunshine yesterday!  I can handle the cold as long as there is blue skies and sunshine with it.  Of course warm weather, blue skies and sunshine sound pretty good to me too!

The kids are very excited about the fundraiser tomorrow night.  To be honest, Brian and I are a bit anxious.  We are so grateful to everyone and all the work that is being put into it.  Our anxiety comes from the "reality" that goes along with why we are being blessed with this fundraiser.  I know I mentinoed this in my last post but I want to ask once more that when you see us just treat us like we are "normal" and there to celebrate (which we are!!).  And we are so thankful - there isn't a word big enough to express our thankfulness!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.   Philippians 4:4-7

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011: Reality

Reality.  I don't much care for that word.  As I tried to come up with a title for this post though that was the word that kept popping into my head.  This week has a big "reality" coming up for us.  First though, I know there are a few people that will appreciate the warning that this post will most likely need a box of kleenex nearby.  Sorry.  Such is life.

Tomorrow afternoon Brian and I are meeting with a funeral pre-planner. She is coming to our house which is so much nicer than the thought of going to a funeral home.  Prayers were clearly answered when we decided which funeral home to go with and we even have a small connection with Sue (who is coming tomorrow) through a family that attends the same church as us.  We've heard wonderful things (and have already connected some with her through email) and know without a doubt we are in good hands despite the yucky subject.

We have a lot of preliminary decisions that need to be made.  Both Brian and I will be "pre-planning" our funerals.  Can I just say that seems insane to type.  We think that doing this together will make it easier.  We are not "planning" this so it's ready to be done any day now but so that whenever the day comes . . . say forty or fifty years from now . . . . all the paperwork will be done.  I am so relieved at the thought of having this burden being taken care of.  Just knowing that this yucky task can be checked off the "to-do" list will be a weight lifted.  However, we still need to get through tomorrow's appointment. 

Another reality this week is the fundraiser on Saturday.  We have not been allowed to help in any way, shape or form with this.  There are some awesome friends behind all this (who would shoot me if I name them but I think most of you know who they are!).  I know there is an entire team of people that are pulling this all together and I know it is going to be an amazing night. 

The donations that are coming in already are just phenomenal.  We are humbled beyond words.  Every day donations are made online and every day our jaws drop to the floor in awe and humbleness.  It is so obvious that God is working through the hands and feet of this community and providing in ways for us beyond our wildest dreams. 

We are planning on being at the fundraiser on Saturday and the kids are so very excited about it!  It is a very strange thing for us though.  We would rather be the people planning and helping with the fundraiser . . . . for another family. . . it's very different being on the receiving end.  Very humbling and hard to explain. 

I'm not even sure how to explain this odd request so I guess I will just say what is in my heart.  When you see our family at the auction, please just treat us like we are anyone else that is there.  Please don't make a big deal about the fact that we are there - we want the kids to focus on having a good time and not let the reality of why everyone is there bring their moods down.  It's very surreal for us.  We would love for this to just be a awesome time of celebration of God's provision through an amazing group of people.  I hope that makes sense? 

A quick physical update - I am still having some swelling in my ankle and also some more back pain.  Nothing that is extreme and nothing that has me overly worried. 

An update on Brian - his sleep apnea has been a bit worse lately.  Quite often during the night I will wake up and hear him struggling to get air through his lungs.  His body must be exhausted in the morning based on the sounds of his breathing - it sounds like he is using every once of energy just to get air to go through his lungs.  I am sure stress is playing a part in this!

We seem to have a small bug going through the house right now with the kids - just some congestion and nothing too bad.  Hopefully it will end with that . . . Ashley starts soccer tomorrow and will need all the energy she can get!! :)

Okay so this post has gone on and on so I will wrap it up now.  Tomorrow our appointment is at 1:30 and we would love prayers for peace, wisdom and guidance.  Tough and awkward and uncomfortable decisions need to be made. 

Please also pray for the many people involved with the fundraiser this week . . . I know the last minute details can bring a lot of stress and a lot of details need to fall into place.  God is in charge of all these details and He will take care of it all but please pray for everyone involved that His unexplainable peace will be experienced by all.

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.  Psalm 94:19

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011: Random Thoughts by Kristi

Brian informed me last night that it has been a while since I've posted an update. So, here I am :)  I have been doing really well lately and God has been sharing a lot with me.  I've actually created a couple new blogs but they are private blogs (more like journals for me) where I have been writing everything down.  Some day I may share but for now I'm still learning and it's just between me and Him.

Physically I have had a little more back pain recently but I am still able to keep it under control with the pain pills.  A new development I'm having is some swelling in my ankles.  This started a couple days ago.  I'm pretty sure it is because I was standing up too long.  I've been keeping my feet elevated and it is getting better.  My Hospice nurse will be here this afternoon and I'm sure she will have some advice for me. 

Emotionally I have been extremely peaceful.  I am mentally in a very good place.  I will be honest and say the swelling in my ankles does have me a little bit concerned but not too bad. 

On another note . . . I have to brag about my little brother.  Kevin designed the cover for this months on-the-town magazine.  And I am so excited about the fact that I was able to download and post it all by myself!!!

Playing off the optical illusion of flipping an image so the person is either smiling or frowning, author, musician, and artist Kevin Kammeraad created this month’s cover. The medical scan is that of his sister, who has been battling cancer for more than four years. When the cover is upside down, it appears the monkey is thinking about cancer, which is why the monkey is frowning. “I also found it interesting that one of my most popular songs over the years is the song ‘Up and Down Frowns,’” Kammeraad said. For more on the artist, turn to page 13 or visit Kammeraad’s website, http://www.tomatocollection.com/

They wrote an awesome article on him . . . of course how can it not be awesome when the subject (meaning Kevin of course) is awesome?? 

Okay so that is my random post for today.  Emotionally good.  Physically okay but would like to see some normal ankles again.  My brother rocks.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011: One Month Ago

February 9, 2011.  The date we were told Kristi has less than 6 months to share with us.  That would mean only 5 left.  Apparently the cancer forgot who it's messin' with because if you've seen Kristi lately you'd say what I was sayin a month ago - ain't no way!  No way, no how.

She is lookin' great and as long as she stays on top of her meds she feels fine too!  Her Hospice nurse has her on a new steroid and it really has given her a much needed boost of energy. So life isn't half bad right now.  That's why it's so hard for me to imagine putting a time limit on this thing.  Ultimately, it's God who will decide when the time is right.  Not us, not the doctor, not the cancer.  No one.  No one but God that is.  And that can be said of all of us, right?!  I was reading this article about "Understanding God's Time".  It really is a fascinating article.  Here's a link to it if you're into reading thought provoking articles: http://members.tnns.net/wordweb/msg3.htm.

Anyway, I just wanted to get an update out there and journal where we're at today, "one month after". Today, we are feeling very blessed.  Blessed to be surrounded by so many amazing people in an amazing community.  We are feeling very peaceful. 

Thanks for sharing with us!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011: Shouting in the Silence

Just over a month ago I sat in a doctors office and was told that I have six months to live.  That was a tough day.  I've had so many things go through my mind since that day.  I've also been through many different physical symptoms.  At one point I was in bed most of the time and experiencing a lot of pain (physical and emotional).  People were doing everything for us.  Everything. 

Since then though I have been able to manage my physical pain fairly well and have been feeling quite restless.  I know God is still calling me to "be still" in so many ways.  I have gotten to the point that I am starting to feel useless.  There are so many people in life overwhelmed right now that would love to just have a day to just be still.  That's when the guilt kicks in.  And the voices - oh the voices are running like crazy through what should be a silent mind.

This morning I pulled out my Jesus Calling devotional book and went to today's devotion.  I haven't read this book in a while but God's timing was perfect as always.  Here's what He told me today:

I love you for who you are, not for what you do.  Many voices vie for control of your mind, especially when you sit in silence.  You must learn to discern what is My voice and what is not.  Ask My Spirit to give you this discernment.  Many of My children run around in circles, trying to obey the various voices directing their lives.  This results in fragmented, frustrating patterns of living.  Do not fall into this trap.  Walk closely with Me each moment, listening for My directives and enjoying My companionship.  Refuse to let other voices tie you up in knows.  My sheep know My voice and follow Me wherever I lead.

One of the bible verses this devotional referenced was John 10:1-5 . . . here is how it is translated in The Message . . . . .

"Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he's up to no good—a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won't follow a stranger's voice but will scatter because they aren't used to the sound of it."  

Right now the silence is almost deafening.  I know my Shepherd's voice but there are so many other voices trying really hard right now to sound just like His.  This morning though my Shepherd shouted this devotional to me in my silence and reminded me once again . .  to enjoy my companionship with Him . . . . and to be still.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011: Fund Raiser Details

In yesterday's update I mentioned a fund raiser that is being planned for us . .  . if you are interested in more details, click on the picture:

Click on the picture

Still surreal.  Still at a loss.  Still hard to believe we are "that family".  Still so humbled beyond words.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011: Surreal Says It All

I am really struggling lately but it's a very different kind of struggle.  It's guilt.  We have been blessed beyond blessed from family, friends and strangers - church, community and school.  All of are needs are being taken care of.  And now an amazing fund raiser is being put on for us.  It just seems so surreal.  I'm fine.  There isn't anything wrong with me.  Okay so I take more pain pills than the average person and I occasionally ride around in a wheelchair named "Breezy".  I do have quite a few scars running up and down my stomach - battle wounds!  Yeah, so a doctor may have told me I have less than six months to live.  Whatever.  Right now it just doesn't seem real.  My pain  medications seems to have my pain under control pretty good these days.  I don't have the energy I used to have (not that I ever really had much to begin with!).  It just seems really weird though reading what people are saying about our family.  It just seems like they must be talking about any other family than ours. 

Now that I'm physically feeling better than I was a few weeks ago it has been harder for me to "be still".  I am still making a point of it though and am learning so many, many things.  I don't know where God is going with everything but it's not mine to know - it's mine to learn - day by day.

I guess for now I just wanted to say a huge thank you. Know that the time, gifts, prayers, love, energy and everything else that you have invested in our family are so much appreciated.

I know there are many people that would like to visit and I will be getting to that point soon.  Thank you for your patience :)