An Ode to Friends and Family

Technically this is not an ode because an ode is a poem, and I am not much of a poet. This is, however, a note of honor, which is what an ode truly is. So here goes.

Melanie and I have long been “independent” souls. In the fellowship we grew up in, ministry personnel were not allowed to have close friendships within the church. Being pastors, we never really developed close friends upon which we could call upon in times of need. We simply struggled our way through life depending upon our own wisdom (or lack thereof) and the Lord. We usually made out fairly well.

Now, we are facing a problem that we cannot overcome on our own. In truth, we are in a life and death battle with a physical enemy, CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia). Regular readers know the situation. New readers can read my last post, “By the Numbers“, which is a summary of the situation.

Because of our independent past history, it is difficult for us to ask for help, but we are learning. We have also discovered just how many friends we have, and how important they are. I am taking this opportunity to publicly thank the ones I know about.

Many of you are praying for us. Some daily. Some more than that. Others on occasion. Thank you all. Especially, I want to thank Judy Scott and her “kitchen sink ministry.” Judy’s view from her kitchen sink includes our house (from a distance). Every time she washes dishes, she prays for us. To Tara Johnson’s (our oldest daughter) prayer team, mostly in Oregon and northern California, thank you. I know many of you pray for me often. I read your posts on Facebook. My nurses and doctor at the Mercy Cancer Center pray for me often. They have not only ministered to my body, but my spirit as well. Thank you. I know I have tons of friends here in Hot Springs who I could, and maybe should, list, but I do have space limitations to consider. Thank you to all who pray for us. We often feel your prayers.

Our home group is a special assembly whom I really want to thank. Not only do you pray for us, but you do things for us. I know you will be helping clean while we are gone. Some of you have also helped us financially (sacrificially). You are a real blessing to us. Thank you.

Some of you have helped us financially. I would like to name you publicly, but that is a private matter. You know who you are. May the Lord bless you 100 fold for your generosity.

Bill Stucky’s home group has helped us clear storm damage from our yards. This was not a one-time display of generosity. You came on several weekends. We really appreciate your time and energy when I have none. Thank you.

Another group who helped us with our yard work is a team from Triumph Airborne Structures, my last place of full time employment. Several of you came to our house while we were at MD Anderson last time and trimmed our horribly over-grown hedge. I don’t even know who you were other than Jon Fazendine and Larry Potts. Thank you all for your sacrificial service.

We have some very special friends in Houston who serve as our volunteer transportation service. I’m sure we will be calling on them for other things as our time in Houston expands into a long term stay. Dawn Jackson Vogel (a friend of our daughter, Tara, while we lived in Moweaqua, Illinois) and Mike Pace (a friend of our youngest daughter, Christy, from Hot Springs), we really appreciate your friendship and very valuable help.

I want to thank, some in advance, the wonderful doctors, nurses, and staff at MD Anderson who are and will be working hard to save my life and provide the healing Melanie and I so greatly desire.

There is a special person whom I may never meet that I want to thank, my MUD (Matched Unrelated Donor) bone marrow donor.

As for family, my brother, Jerry, offered to give me his bone marrow. Unfortunately, he was not a match. I still appreciate your offer. Melanie’s Mom and Dad have helped us throughout the years. Your support and prayers are invaluable. Her sisters are a constant encouragement to her, pray for us, and have helped us financially. Our daughters: Tara, Tammy, and Christy are a great encouragement to us. Whether it is sending out prayer requests, helping raise funds, assisting with general upkeep, or encouraging phone calls, you are the greatest family a Mom and Dad could ever hope for. Thank you! Thanks to our grandchildren who help as they are able, too.

I’ve saved the best for last. Thank you, Melanie for being the best wife and friend I could ever dream of having. I know this has not been easy for you, and it will likely get harder before it gets better. Thank you for being my companion, nurse, encourager, care giver, and so many other things.

I guarantee I have missed someone. Please don’t be offended. Rest assured, you are loved, it’s just that my mind is going quickly!

To all of you who read this, thank you and may the Lord richly bless you one and all!

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