We will always remember Ellie for her love for others, her creativity, sensitivity, and delight in life! Ellie's light has spread far and wide... may it continue to shine in our hearts.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


Thank you all for your sweet comments and continued prayer for us. Life for us is still a little strange. We have been resting as much as we can, partly because we are getting sick. I'm working on a cold and John has had a fever and headache for three days. Not fun. I keep hoping that John will feel better by the time he goes back to work tomorrow. And on an emotional level, we are each in our own particular place in the grieving process.

Ethan has been glad to be back in Montana. Before we left Florida, the crazy schedule was getting to him. Both John and I were away from Ethan far more than he would have liked. On the day of Ellie's service in Florida, Ethan woke up and was snuggling with me. He said "Mom, I wish I was dead." When I asked why, he said "so that I could go to Heaven and see Ellie." He often says that he misses her. Last night he wanted to look at the stars because it makes him think of Ellie, but he was sad a few nights ago when he saw a picture of her. I have definitely been able to see the pressure of the past months begin to show in Ethan's behavior. He will get so frustrated and angry sometimes over the smallest things. One of the sweetest things came out of one of Ethan's angry times. For the first time, Ethan identified Ellie as part of himself. I had told him "no" and Ethan was so upset with me. He said "you don't like me and Ellie." As the situation escalated, he said "you don't love me and Ellie." And finally, "Me and Ellie hate you!" There was a whole lot more to the situation, and I did deal with his attitude, but it was a long and complicated battle. Much later in the day, Ethan came to me and said "you are a good mom... me and Ellie really do love you." I just thought it was so sweet that Ethan would take Ellie on as a part of him. Little things like that show me that he's working through Ellie's death in his own way. On the not-so-good side though, Ethan has begun having dreams about me "going away" forever. He woke up this morning and literally ran across the room and jumped into bed with me. He was so shaken by the dream that he had. This whole thing is such a process... At this point we are trying to just keep things wide open for him to say whatever he's thinking and feeling. We try to show him that there's nothing that he cannot say. I would much rather hear the sadness, harshness, and even ugliness than see it buried in his deepest heart.

John is just plain sad. When he gets home from work, when he wakes up in the morning, when he goes to bed at night... he's just sad. The tears are always close to the surface, and he sees Ellie everywhere. We have had some nice time over these past days off of work to just be in the same room together. Since John is feeling so sick, he hasn't been able to be busy and so we have been able to just sit. But sometimes the down times can be harder than the busy times. More time to think. Yesterday I would be doing something in the kitchen and John would walk up behind me, put his arms around my waist and just lay his head on my shoulder and say "I miss her so much". It's as if all of the energy and life has been completely drained away from his body. John has echoed Ethan's sentiment many times over "I just wish I was dead." I don't take it personally - it's the only way for the pain to stop, and I know that. He says that he can hear her voice and see her everywhere he looks. I think that one of the most heartbreaking things for me to watch is how John has not only lost his Ellie, but he has had to face the death of a dream as well. John always always wanted a daughter. When I was pregnant with Ellie, he hoped that she was a girl. He told me that he would not want to keep having children just to try for a son if all we had were girls, so I asked how long he would try for a girl if all we had were boys. He couldn't answer me. Not having a girl was unthinkable to him. But on the other side of that coin, I saw John taking such delight in Ethan yesterday. He acknowledged that losing Ethan would have been just as hard as losing Ellie. Ethan is such a precious little guy, and I watched John take pictures of him and laugh at his antics in the snow. John wants to be here for Ethan and for me... it's just that the sadness trys to take over sometimes.

I, on the other hand, am living in a wierd sort of never-land. Everything is a little surreal. Last night as John watched the minutes pass from 7:43 to 44... 45... 46, and tick off the six week anniversary of Ellie's death, I felt like I was watching from outside of the window. I should feel somthing other than sorrow for John's pain. I should be crying too. I should feel... something, anything. But most of the time I don't. I thought that some of the numbness should have warn off by now and that I would be inconsolable. Today is the 15 year anniversary of Dad's kidnapping. But as I mentally mark the day, the emotions of it still sit off at a distance. Usually watching the Superbowl is my most emotional time because, that year, the 31st. fell on Superbowl Sunday and I was watching the game at the exact same time my dad was being kidnapped. John was asking me about it this morning because he was trying to figure out how the grief of losing Ellie will change over the years. I wish that I could have been more help to him, but I think that my grief process is just not "normal". When it came to losing Dad and Ellie, I have not felt the full weight of the grief. I often feel like I'm standing apart, as an observer, unable to fully participate. I just cannot go into that place of deep pain - I don't want to hurt that much. And so, I take it in very small doses. Music is my biggest trigger, so I will occasionally listen to music and look at pictures, or allow some of the memories to settle in... and then I will cry. I also tend to have a good hard cry occasionally over something very minor, and that helps to discharge some of the pent up emotions. John is wonderful about that. We were dating during the first year of Dad's captivity. Every so often, I would just lose it over something stupid. I would cry and cry like my heart was broken when the littlest thing had set me off. John would hold me and stroke my hair and say "it's ok - I know this is about your dad too." Even this morning, while John was crying, he completely understood why I wasn't as sad. There is nothing on this Earth as precious to me as the gift of being undertood. John has given me that gift from the time that I first met him, and now - even in the midst of his unbearable grief - he gives it again.

Thank you also for your prayers for Loretta. She is just so exhausted these days. It has been such a long and intense 15 months. Before we came back to Montana, Loretta moved back into her half of our little place. She hasn't been able to completely sort and unpack everything, but has been working on it little by little. She has also been dealing with some severe pain in her feet. Emotionally, Loretta mostly stays where I'm at - not letting it all in to far - until she looks at John. Then she feels the full weight of his grief. She has been an incredible help with Ethan. She provides such wisdom in how to talk to him as well as how to discipline him.

We have not yet moved over to our place. There is much finishing left to do, so for now we rest and stay at Mike and Reni's. They have been so gracious to us in allowing us, and our stuff, to overflow into their home. When John is feeling better and we have had the time we need to recover a little from the past 6 weeks, we will begin the process of settling into "home."

Thought you might like to see some pictures of my guys...

This was at the Minneapolis airport on our way home:


Some fun in the snow:




Monday, January 28, 2008

New Blog

Just a quick note to let you know that I have another blog. This one will continue as the primary blog to keep updated on our family, but I do have a new one. It is called "Navigating Neuroblastoma" and exists solely as a means of sharing information about NB with anyone who is interested. I still have much to add to it, but I primarily wanted to get the word out about it. I am wanting to share links to other NB families, but don't want to add those without permission. If you have a child who has (at any time) fought NB and you would like me to give a link to your website, please either comment on one of the blogs or email me! Thanks so much.

Below is the link to the new blog:


Ellie's Memorial Service!

Our friend, Trent Tuggle, has spent hours and hours editing and putting together a video of the Florida memorial service! Not only do we have a beautiful DVD to watch and share, but he has made it possible for all of you to see it through the internet. Thank you so much, Trent, for all of your hard work!

You can watch the video below, or you can go to Google Video and search for "Ellie Skees" or I can email you a link, if you need that! If you access it through Google Video, you can get it larger (full screen if you want). Also, a possible note of interest for those who were at the service: the slideshow at the service was very hard to see, but Trent was able to splice in the actual slide show - so you can get a much clearer view by watching the video than you had in person!

One final thing for those of you who know Tania, Tamra and Jessica Rich... the man playing the piano while Jessi sings is Tania's husband, Josh Julin. Also, I am so sad to have to tell you that Tania lost her baby a few days after the memorial service. She had a very rough several days, both physically and emotionally, but as of today she says that she's feeling a bit better. There will be some sad times ahead for Tania, Josh, and the girls, so I would so appreciate your prayers for their family! Thanks.

As you may have discovered, I took the playlist off of the blog. For those of you who are part of "Facebook", I now have an account, and have added that playlist on it. Just search for "Sarah Skees" and you'll find it. I will try to find another way to connect you to those songs as well, but I'm not sure how yet.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Home At Last...

I just wanted to let you know that we have made it home to Montana! We arrived yesterday afternoon. It's good to be back, but we did enjoy seeing all of the family and friends in Florida. Everyone was so wonderful to us! John went to work today, and will work tomorrow and Sunday as well. The best word for how we feel right now is exhausted. I slept in - in between getting up to get Ethan food, juice, a movie, etc... He finally pounced me at 9:45 a.m. - he'd had enough of my lazy ways! No matter - I moved to the easy chair with a cup of tea and spent the day in front of the T.V. Ahhhhhhh. There was a warm fire and snow was falling outside the windows all day... so beautiful!

Well... that's about it for now. We are doing as well as we can. Some things were a little difficult when it came to returning to a place that has Ellie's fingerprints all over it. But I guess that's how it felt to return to Florida. Ellie's mark seems to be imprinted upon everything we see. Our tears flowed a number of times yesterday.

I will write more when I'm able, but I plan on just relaxing for a time. Thank you so much for all of your prayer for our family. We need it so badly!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sleepless in Orlando...

Thank you all for the sweet comments!  I'm glad you enjoyed our little surprise renovation of the blog.  It just seemed right to have some newness for Ellie's "new day".  

I have found it hard to get to sleep tonight (or this morning,  I should say) so I decided to get up and try to express what is on my heart.  I don't think that I will have another chance to get on the blog before we get back to Montana on the 24th. so I wanted to give you an overview of the service while it is fresh on my mind.  As a side note for those of you who are wondering, I will leave the music on the blog until we get back to MT in order to give everyone a chance to experience the "blog memorial" but then I will take the music off.)

The service yesterday was wonderful.  Mom and I were talking about how it's kind of hard to say that you "enjoyed" a memorial service, but that's really how it felt.  We were emotional at times, of course, but there was mostly just an overwhelming sense of joy in Ellie's life and peace that she is with Jesus now.

Mom shared a compilation of memories and thoughts that she had gleaned from friends and family.  It gave such a beautiful picture of who Ellie was, with all of her sweet and funny ways.  It was so special to me that Ellie's "Gramma Gramma" was the one to speak of her life.   Mom's courage in standing up to speak of Ellie while her own heart was breaking, was amazing.

Then Jessica Rich sang.  Jessica's dad (Mark) was kidnapped with my dad and another co-worker, Rick, 15 years ago in Panama.  Rick's wife, Patti (who is now re-married) along with their daughter, Dora (who is now married - which makes me feel so old!) came to the service from Missouri.  I was just so touched that they would come and spend this special time with us!  Jessica's sister, Tamra, and their mom, Tania were there - along with Tania's new husband, Josh.  (Josh played the piano for Jess while she sang.)  Another special blessing of the day was to see a newly pregnant Tania!!  I held Jessica when she was just a baby, and over the years I would sing to her and Tamra.  Then when I had Ellie, Jessica would sing to her - sometimes the same songs that I had sung Jess to sleep with.  Jessica sang "The Fight of the Dancer," a song that she had written just after Ellie died!   I will try to find a way to share it with you... I cannot even tell you what a touching tribute that was.

Next, Larry Brown spoke.  It has meant so much to us that Larry would do, not one, but TWO memorial services for Ellie!  Larry has an ability to share the Word of God with such wisdom, and he just talks as if we were sitting down at his table with a cup of coffee - all 500 of us.  (Yes, there were 500 people there!)  Larry was able to encourage our hearts with the fact that we can simply rely on the character of God.

As the Celtic Woman version of the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" began playing, Lauren and Lindsay Bell performed a glorious ballet dance in honor of Ellie.  John and I used to babysit those girls (along with their brother) back when they were small... before we ever had children.  Over the last three years, Ellie and her "Bubbie" (Pat) had the tradition of watching them perform "The Nutcracker" at Christmastime.  It was their performance that we attended back when Ellie was just getting over the chickenpox.  Ellie loved waiting to hug the girls after the ballet ended as much as she enjoyed watching them dance!  So you can imagine how special it was for us to watch their beautiful dance, set to one of Ellie's favorite songs - a song that held so many memories for me.

We then watched a slideshow of pictures (similar to the one I posted on the blog) set to the version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" that I posted and Twila Paris' "Do I Trust You" medley.  That was the point in the service that everyone who hadn't already been crying, lost it.

Cindy Acosta and Stephanie Cline came forward and danced next, to the Celine Dion song "A New Day Has Come".  Not only did they give a beautiful and moving performance that expressed the song so perfectly, but I was particularly moved because they were Ellie's ballet teachers.  Ellie took ballet for only one short school year, but it was the highlight of her young life!  You all know how much Ellie loved to dance.  Those two sweet ladies helped to cultivate that love in Ellie's heart, and she loved them.

Larry once again stood up to speak.  The first thing that he said was "Ellie would not be happy with us if we didn't clap for those dancers!"  And so everyone was able to clap their hearts out as they had been wanting to do, but afraid that they shouldn't.  He was so right - Ellie would have wanted to kick our butts!  After the laughing and clapping was over, Larry read Scripture and presented the Gospel - the Gospel that Ellie believed with all of her heart, and the very reason that she is enjoying Jesus in Heaven right now.

Just before the service came to an end, we did the same thing that we did in Montana.  We had the song "We Will Glorify" by Twila Paris play as the lights went out.  In Montana we used candles, but here we used tiny flashlights to shine as the music played.  This was something very personal to me.  Looking back 15 months to when Ellie was diagnosed with cancer, the first couple of weeks are such a blur in my memory.  But I remember that the grace of God covered me like a blanket when I had no strength of my own.  And I remember that I didn't pray that Ellie would be healed.  I wanted her to be, but somehow I knew without asking that this journey would be about suffering, and that if Ellie was to be healed on this Earth that it would not be soon.  I knew that there would be a long road ahead.  I don't know why I knew that... I just knew.  So in those early days and weeks, the only prayer that would come out of my heart was "please, God, please - take glory for Yourself through this..."  It was the only prayer that my heart knew how to form.  And so, in both of Ellie's memorial services, I turned around to look at the little lights shining all over the room.  That light was, to me, the reflected glory of God Himself - shining from the people who loved my little girl.  The people who were touched by Ellie's light, which was not her light at all, but the incredible light of her Maker and Savior.  I'm crying as I type this, because God answered my prayer.  You see, with all due respect to my precious Ellie, she was just an ordinary little girl - just like every other child in the world.  Yes, she was special - but no more and no less than every other child... your children... your grandchildren...  We are ordinary parents.  We don't love our children any more than you love yours.  We did not handle this situation any better than any other parent going through such a horrible situation.  We simply have an unbelievably powerful God.  That one fact has made all of the difference in our lives, and in Ellie's life most of all.  The little lights sparkled around the room as the song played... "... we will glorify the King of kings, we will glorify the Lord.  We will glorify the Lord of lords, who is the great I AM."

That is the only purpose this life has for me.  It is the only reason that I will get out of bed every day.  It is the only reason that I will survive the crushing pain that wants to sit on my chest when I realize that my daughter will never put her arms around my neck again.  Contrary to popular opinion, I am not strong.  I am the weakest human being that you will ever meet.  But I have a God who carries me when I cannot walk.  I only appear strong because I haven't been able to walk for a very long time.  And the only encouragement that I have for you is to stop trying so hard to walk on your own, when you and God both know that you can't.

Well,  I suppose that I can sleep now.  You must know by now that this blog has been as much a blessing to me as it has been to you.  I'm sure there would have been many sleepless nights for me had I not been able to pour my heart out to you all.  I won't stop, but it may be a bit patchy at times.  There are two reasons that I don't post - one is when I am insanely busy, and the other is when I am going through a really hard time.  I always have to wait until I can sort out my thoughts a bit before I can write.  But rest assured, I always come back.  The next week or so will be busy, so I don't plan to write for a bit due to that.  But if I can't sleep again, I'll be back sooner!  Once again, I must thank you for your faithfulness in praying for our family.  You are such a blessing to us, and we love you all.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ellie Skees - In Memoriam

Back in October, Ellie discovered this song by Celine Dion. Something about it touched her deeply and she asked me to share it on the blog. I have been saving it for just this moment. When I asked Ellie who she thought the "boy" was in this song, she looked at me kind of shyly (because she didn't really know) and said "Jesus?" I had wanted to know what it meant to her.

A New Day Has Come

I was waiting for so long

For a miracle to come

Everyone told me to be strong

Hold on and don't shed a tear

Through the darkness and good times

I knew I'd make it through

And the world thought I had it all

But I was waiting for you

Hush, now

I see a light in the sky

Oh, it's almost blinding me

I can't believe

I've been touched by an angel with love

Let the rain come down and wash away my tears

Let it fill my soul and drown my fears

Let it shatter the walls for a new sun

A new day has... come

Where it was dark now there's light

Where there was pain now there's joy

Where there was weakness,

I found my strength

All in the eyes of a boy

Hush, now

I see a light in the sky

Oh, it's almost blinding me

I can't believeI've been touched by an angel with love

Let the rain come down and wash away my tears

Let it fill my soul and drown my fears

Let it shatter the walls for a new sun

A new day has... come

OhhhHush, now

I see a light in your eyes

All in the eyes of the boy

I can't believe

I've been touched by an angel with love

Ellie, remembered...

Our little angel will leave a lasting impression on our hearts!


Special Thanks to...

Andy Corley - Blog Creator

Mike Enters - Original pink blog design

Kristen Miller - New blue blog design

Thanks, guys, for your part in making this blog a blessing to so many - particularly to our family!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

One more thing...

I just forgot one sweet little thing in my earlier entry. Tonight when I was putting Ethan to bed, I kissed him and snuggled him and said "Ethan, you are my little son! You're my son-shine." To which he replied "and you are my moon!"

Snippets of our week...

Thanks for all of the concern... We have been very busy these past days. It has been nice to see people, but I have noticed that the more time passes, the harder things are getting for me. I have been just exhausted at the end of every day.

On Wednesday I was able to see a bunch of people at New Tribes. It was wonderful just to get to hug people and physically "lay eyes" on some of the many people who have been praying for us. Ginger and I also spent much of the day working on preparations for the service. We then sat down and watched some video footage of Ellie. John and I went out that evening with Chad and Janeene and were able to fill them in on some of the details of the past year and a half. I can't even tell you how much I enjoyed getting to sit down with them, face to face after missing them for so long. Needless to say, "tired" is an understatement for how I felt at the end of that day!

On Thursday I went to Ellie's school and they allowed me to go from class to class and share a memory book of Ellie. It was wonderful to have a chance to interact with the kids! I love the way that kids do these kinds of things. When you give them the opportunity, children are refreshingly candid and honest. They aren't afraid of the word "die" and never hesitate to ask what they need to know. We talked about Ellie's treatments, her death, and the memorial service. In one class we talked about Ellie's favorite verse, and in another class, the kids shared memories that they had of Ellie. It was just beautiful. I think that I needed that day as much as they did. After that, I was totally drained and spent the next couple of hours with a friend, being fed - physically, emotionally and spiritually!

That evening we went to dinner at Mom and Gary's house. We ended up out around the fire pit roasting marshmallows with the kids. Chad, Janeene, and Jenn were also there with all of their children. Little Emma slept in her mommy's arms and baby Zeke enjoyed the festivities quite happily from Grandma's lap. The other four - Mady, Libby, Elijah and Ethan regaled us all with riddles and stories. It was hilarious! There were some of the funniest, nonsensical riddles and sentences that you would ever want to hear, but all were awarded with applause and whoops. Towards the end of the time, Ethan finally came up with a doosey of a story. It started with "Once upon a time, my Ellie and me went into a scary forest. Then we heard a wolf howl." This was all said in a very hushed and scary tone, when all of a sudden both Mady and Libby let out a simultaneous and spontaneous "aaaaaoooouuuuuuuuuuuuu." It took some time before the laughing (from the adults) died down. Ethan was finally able to continue, and the story was quite interesting. There was also a bear sighting, and bad guys attacking. At one point, Ethan and "my Ellie" rolled up into a ball and got away. They were defeated several times by the bad guys, but finally fought their way to victory!

Yesterday I went shopping with Ginger to prepare for Tuesday. We had a lot of fun shopping and getting pedicures. We ended the time by looking for a dress for Maddie. I started realizing that I was having trouble looking at all of the girl clothes, but kept trying to focus on the small sizes instead of the ever present racks of size 7-12. I kept telling myself that I could separate this - we were shopping for Maddie and it had nothing to do with Ellie. But I kept seeing dresses that Ellie would love... or hate... John called me on my cell just as I rounded a rack of clothes and saw the exact same blouse that Ellie wore on several occasions in New York. All I could do was stand there stroking that shirt and sobbing into the phone. I had the thought that I should get away from there, but stood rooted to the spot, not wanting to leave that little tangible connection to my Ellie.

Last night, before putting Ethan to bed, John was kissing Ethan's head as they lay on the floor. I heard John say "You are my only one. The only one that I have left." Ethan said "yeah, because Ellie died and went to Heaven." And then he said "if I died, then you guys would be all alone and you would be sad." To which I added a little silent "shoot me now!"

John has found that he can't seem to cry hard anymore, but is constantly just welling up with tears. I am finding that after not crying much at all, I am constantly just welling up... we both have finally made it to the exact same point at the same time! We have been going in opposite directions for so long, but today Mom and Gary kept Ethan so that John and I could get away together. (This was after I went and had a long massage and facial, thanks to a couple of sweet ladies who gave me money to do something special for myself.) John and I went out for lunch and then just browsed through stores in the mall. We loved being together, but I can't even count the number of times that we had to wipe the tears from our eyes. There was a little girl at the table next to ours at lunch... a beautiful fountain... a crystal Tinkerbell... the Metropolitan Museum store... a carving of a little girl with short brown hair... We wandered around with the oddest sensation - it was a peculiar combination of joy in being together, but having a gaping hole in our hearts. At one point John said "I just want to laugh and cry all at the same time." And that is how it felt. We held hands as we strolled through the stores, and wrapped our arms around each other on the escalators. We had such joy in each other's company, but one of us would look at something and then nod to the other and our eyes would instantly flood with tears. It made us wonder how many other people we pass every day who are walking around with the bottom having fallen out of their entire world - and no one ever knows. It reminds me of a quote from a movie that we recently saw... "We are the walking wounded. We are handicapped without the benefit of a great parking space." I'm sure that these feelings will dampen with time, but it feels like, after wanting it for so long, we just got "normal" handed to us on a platter and we don't even know what to do with it. This was not the normal that we wanted.

So... we got home in time to get ready for a party that was being held at our old house. I was dreading the first sight of the house, knowing that it would be hard to see it again. The last time I saw it, was in May when we were home from New York for a week. I had fully planned on living there again. But then I never went back. We walked up the driveway and I could see the lights glowing from the windows... my windows. But not my windows anymore. I loved that little house. We put our hearts into every detail. I stepped into the front room and took one quick look around, then went right back out the front door as fast as I could go. As I cried my eyes out in the car port, I just couldn't wrap my head around the pain and confusion. I thought I could cry it out and then get on with the evening, but I couldn't get past it. It was just one more loss and was the one that sent me right over the edge. I have no desire to ever live in that house again without Ellie, but somehow loosing the house felt unbearable.

So... that's a recap of parts of this week... It's not that it's been horrible. It's been special and good, but also very hard.

Thank you to all of you who are staying involved with the memorial on Tuesday even though you can't make it. It just tickled me so much to read about how some of you will wear bright colors for her. Just so you know - in case you're wondering - Ellie's favorite color was blue. She liked blues of all kinds, but her VERY favorite was aqua. She liked purple and pink as well. I also thought that you might like to know that in the last weeks of her life, Ellie watched the movie "Night at the Museum" probably 100 times. There was something about that movie that Ellie absolutely loved. And when she began to weaken to the point where even watching movies was too much work, she loved to have it on in the background. She knew all of the words. So if you want to get a feel for her sense of humor, you could watch that movie. She would recite the British man's lines verbatim - with accent - and loved every scene with Jedidiah (the little cowboy). Ellie got so tickled over the part where Ben Stiller and the monkey slap each other. Once when she was in a lot of pain, Ellie said "would someone please slap the monkey?" and then, as the pain worsened "would someone please knock the monkey out with a hammer?" That movie became such an integral part of the last weeks of Ellie's life. To us, it is her movie. Also... I am planning to put a little something on the blog for those of you who are unable to make it to the memorial service on Tuesday, so please check the blog that morning (or anytime that day). I will try to give you a little memorial as well!

Thank you for your love and care for us. You amaze us with your thoughtfulness!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

What to wear...

I meant to tell you on the last post not to feel like you have to wear black to Ellie's memorial service. In fact (unless you really want to for other reasons) we would prefer that everyone show up in all colors of the rainbow and everything in between! Ellie loved color, and would have loved to see you all wearing something much more interesting than just black. As for how dressy to come... I leave that completely up to you. John will not be wearing a suit - just dress pants and a button down shirt, and I will be in a dress. But please feel free to be as comfortable or dressy as you want - come in jeans if you'd like (John wishes he was) or suits if you prefer that. We hope you will come as you are (we love you that way) to help us celebrate Ellie's sweet life!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Florida Memorial Service

I just wanted to get the specifics out about the Memorial Service.

Tuesday, January 15
11:00 a.m.

530 Dog Track Rd.
Longwood, FL 32750

For those of you familiar with Northland, the service is being held in the old sanctuary (white building), not the new larger auditorium.

We have had requests about where to make donations in Ellie's memory. We would like to provide two different locations.

The "Band of Parents" is made up of parents of children with Neuroblastoma, and is dedicated to funding treatments being researched through Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City. We believe that this is currently the best hope for kids with Neuroblastoma, and we know a number of children who may greatly benefit from it. Donations may be made to: Band of Parents; PO Box 335; Dewittville, NY 14728, or you can visit the website online at: http://www.bandofparents.org/MakeDonation.html The website also has a gift shop, where 100% of the purchases goes to the fund. The following is a quote from that website: "The National Cancer Institute's (NCI) federal budget was $4.6 billion. Of that, breast cancer received 12%, prostate cancer received 7%, and all 12 major groups of pediatric cancers combined received less than 3% ." Also... "Cancer accounts for the greatest number of disease deaths of children in the United States and kills more children per year than cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, asthma and AIDS combined."

As you know, our hearts are very much geared towards furthering research into alternative methods for treating cancer. We believe that the best hope for curing cancer lies in alternative medicine, but it appears that it will take a great deal of time before parents are allowed the freedom to pursue such treatments for their children (before it is too late to be of any effect). It is our hope that great strides will be made in this area until one day children will have the same access as adults do to gentle and humane treatment for cancer. We will have the information out to you shortly about where and how to donate (probably "C.A.M.", Complimentary Alternative Medicine) should this be a way that you choose to honor Ellie's memory.

Thank you all for your continued prayer for our family. We are enjoying this time of connecting with family and friends in Florida!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy New Year

I hope that you all have had a very happy new year so far. I cannot imagine this next year bringing any more joy or pain than the last one did for us... I think that my best wish for our new year is that it be boring! That's not too much to ask is it?

As we are about to begin "making the rounds" so to speak, as we get together with family and friends, I thought that I would address the most frequently asked question that we have had: are we planning to move back to Florida? The short answer is... no. The long answer is... we don't know how God will lead us in the future, but He has clearly led us to Montana - where we will stay until we receive further direction. We have completely turned our life upside down over this past year, and our biggest desire right now as a family is to settle into one spot. We are so close to that goal right now. We wish that we could live closer to the many family and friends that we have here in Florida, but we will be back for visits... We have been taken in by a wonderful community (made up of both family and friends) in Montana, and are looking forward to settling in and having some semblance of a "normal" life (whatever that is), but it does not diminish the impact or importance of all those in Florida that we love. We do believe that God led us to Montana, and that it wasn't just for the season of Ellie's healing or death. He seems to have also led us there just for us, and we trust Him in that.

Thanks again for praying! We love you all.