OCTOBER 27, 2009

What a big difference in Bonnie’s health in the last week (it’s amazing what happens when people get off morphine).  Here are the updates:

  • Bonnie celebrated her 51st birthday this past Thursday (sorry its been so long between updates).  While some people don’t like getting old, at this phase in life we consider ‘getting older’ a gift from God.  She had a great day with lots of cards and flowers.  Thanks for all your cards and expressions of love (I’m assuming its not expected I’ll send a thank you note for each of the cared:)). 
  • God has answered several prayers this week:
    • There have been hours of conversations with Bonnie
    • Bonnie made it to her 51st birthday
    • Bonnie has been able to make several phone calls to some family members…
    • The vending machine at Hospice has Red Vines in it :)
  • Bonnie has progressed fairly well over the week.  When the Hospice Doctor examined her at the end of last week she was astounded to see such noticeable improvement in just three days.
  • Continue to pray for strength and for a smooth withdraw from the narcotics that they have been given Bonnie for pain…she really is experiencing very little pain (except for my dry jokes).  I’m still very perplexed as to why the hospital ignored our request numerous times to stop using morphine.  No doubt that situation will need to be addressed at another time.
  • McKenzie was elected at the Jr. Representative for Homecoming…needless to say we are all very proud of her.  From a dad’s perspective I must say she looked beautiful!
  • Bonnie and McKenzie would love to see Phantom of the Opera here at ASU this coming month (and mom if she is still in town).  Pray that Bonnie is well enough to both attend and enjoy, this performance.  McKenzie and Bonnie have watched it numerous times on DVD and to see it ‘live’ would be another great memory.

Over the past week a couple of weeks some very good friends (people I have known for 20 & 25 years) have flown in from MI.  Just having them here and simply being together with nothing in particular ‘to do’ has been refreshing and refueling for me personally.  While it’s tempting to ‘keep busy’ with projects (oh we got a few done – trust me), just ‘being together’ has been medicine for my soul.  It reminds me of the need for me and really for each of us, to be simply in God’s presence…no agenda, not having a ‘to do’ list for God, not trying to be ‘productive’ with my time with God, but simple to “Be with God’ and allow God to speak to my heart…It just doesn’t ‘happen’ but I need to be intentional to continue to create space for God in the midst of this journey.This morning as I was making the bed (now I’m not sure why I make the bed if Bonnie’s not around to see it messy, but anyway, a particular song kept running around in my mind, so I thought I’d share it with you….  click here.


Encouraged by your continued prayers and love,
Juno, Bonnie and McKenzie

PS:  For those who would like to sign up for meals  – click here


OCTOBER 17, 2009

It’s hard to believe it’s Saturday…the days seem to run together.  Thanks for your patience as you await another email.  Here are our updates:
  • The stent and pug tube were put in place on Thursday.  This means Bonnie was able to have the NG tube (the one that was going down the nose and into the stomach) removed.
  • Bonnie’s diet (from this moment on) will consist of nutritional drinks and soft foods.  Birthday dinner’s will take on a new meaning.
  • Thursday evening was a rough night for Bonnie. Her temp spiked at 104 so they were wondering what’s up with that.
  • A decease control specialist was in Friday to determine if Bonnie had some kind of infection.  While Bonnie has no high temperature on Friday, they put her on some kind of antibiotic.
  • It’s evident that jaundice has set in again since the procedure on Thursday.
  • Bonnie is still working out the anesthesia from Thursday’s procedure.
  • She weighs about 80 lbs (being thin is over rated).
  • Bonnie’s sister, Diane, has returned to MI.
  • Bonnie’s two brothers and sister-in-law arrived on Thursday (and our two year old niece).
  • Bonnie’s mom is still here and rather than keep changing her return flight we just made it an open ended return.
The plans as of today….
After another visit this morning, I’ll give the go ahead for Bonnie to be moved to a Hospice in patient care facility near our home.  It’s called the Dobson House..  Not sure when the actual move will occur, but I’ll at least give the OK.  I did take Bonnie’s sister through it for a tour, and did drive McKenzie past it last night so she could see how close it was to our home (10 minutes).
The Dobson house has 24 hour visitation, and has a homey feel to it.  They also provide 24/7 care for Bonnie, which is important at this time.  It really is the best place for Bonnie.  As Bonnie’s strength improves, we will then be able to bring Bonnie home.  As many of you know, Hospice also provides a visiting nurse if there is that need.
Once Bonnie gets settled in some friends will see that someone can come over to do Bonnie’s hair.  When McKenzie heard that she said, “I can do mom’s hair, I know just how she likes it!” So when the transition happens, McKenzie will love on mom and do her hair ‘the right way.”
Today, McKenzie swim team is in State Finals.  Yesterday McKenzie qualified in both of her events, the 200 and the 500.  So this afternoon I’ll be at the meet cheering her on.
Many thanks for your prayers, offers for rooms for guests to stay in, offers for some buddy passes for flights, for the food coming in, for someone who winter seeded our lawn. 
Also while I thoroughly enjoy gardening, it was becoming obvious that spending several hours planting flowers was becoming less of a priority.  So thanks to the garden angels who came over and got the flower beds transitioned over.  They look wonderful  In fact last night a friend and I were outside about 10:30 by the fire pit and when we came in had noticed that McKenzie (out of habit) locked the patio door.  McKenzie didn’t pick up her phone (interesting that when she’s texting her friends it never leaves her side, but when she ‘accidentally’ locks dad outside everything goes to voice mail).  Anyway after getting her attention (by waving, jumping and yelling at the upstairs window – for which some probably thought I was relieving stress), she came down with a guilty grin and let us in.Bonnie is always collecting poems, quotes, songs, other peoples stories, that she would use as she shared with people about her own story.  She would say, one of the songs that she would use would be this one (click here).  While the song has been around awhile (some would call it Timeless), it reflects her journey and her heart.  Bonnie’s birthday is Thursday.  No clue as to how that will look, but very thankful that a year ago we celebrated 50 years of her life.

Thanks for your love and continued prayers,
Juno, Bonnie and McKenziePS:  For those who would like to sign up for meals  – click here

PSS:  Thanks for understanding that every email, while DEEPLY appreciated, probably won’t be responded to personally…


OCTOBER 13, 2009

Last night, I had the following conversation with McKenzie about Bonnie….
The procedure did not go as we would have hoped, and the doctors will give us more options tomorrow (Tuesday).  What we do know is that Mom won’t be with us as long as we would like.
As you could imagine there were plenty of tears here last night (I should have called my broker to invest in Kleenex).  The Lord provided the right people here to comfort McKenzie.  One of McKenzie’s good friends spent the night…so right now they thought ‘going out to breakfast’ is what they needed (Bonnie’s taught her well).  My good friends Jack Daniels and Jim Beam also spent the night…(OK that really is a joke).  From my heart I hope you need to know that I feel incredibly blessed by the friendships God has provided for me (us) (maybe God knew I’d need a lot of help for this part of the journey).

Today, I’ll be talking more with Bonnie, the doctors and Hospice.  We will be able to share more details in the next few days.  Until then be praying for a miracle and for God to provide strength and peace.

No doubt when the road of life gets bumpy (in MI those are called the potholes of life) it is important that we lean on the friends God has blessed us with and even more importantly dig deep into our our souls for what we belive most. So here’s a new song that speaks to my heart, and gives me Hope….  May you also be blessed as you listen to it. Click here to listen (be patient with the DJ’s intro).

Thanks for your love and continued prayers,
Juno, Bonnie and McKenzie

OCTOBER 10, 2009

We finally talked to the liver surgeon (on Friday, Oct 9th) about her condition.  No doubt a guy on the ‘top of his game’.  As of yesterday, here’s our game plan:
1)  She will stay at Banner Good Samaritan Hospital until Monday about noon.  We hope to rebuild her strength for the coming week.  The surgeons DO NOT advise any additional surgeries to the liver.
2)  On Monday we will transport her across town to Scottsdale Osborn to have a EGD Stent placement into the duodenum. The desired outcome will be to stop the bleeding and get her stomach working.  This is scheduled as out patient, but I’m suspecting and hoping they will keep her overnight.  While the procedure is laproscopic, she still needs your prayers.  The liver surgeon is extremely confident in this other doctor who is installing the stent and says he would have the doctor put the stent in him if he needed one.
3)  If the stent works (and we need prayers on that) as anticipated, the surgeon said, she should be in good shape to then figure out what she (we) wants to do about the cancer.  The cancer is in her right lob of the liver, outside of the liver, and at the opening of the small intestine, and I’m really not sure where else (that’s me talking).
4)  We have already emailed her paperwork to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (that’s about an hour from our home).  We are ready to go with a consultation, whenever Bonnie is able.  We have also invited our Naturopathic doctor to join us on the consultation.
5)  Bonnie needs to put on some weight- too bad I can’t donate some of mine to her.  So pray we can get some approaiyte nutrition into her to build of strength for Monday’s procedure  – and I’ve been already told that red vines and chocolate covered raisins do meet necessary nutritional requirement.
6)  While Bonnie had a great day on Friday, she did have a ‘rough’ night.  Not sure what means yet.  So please pray for her.  She needs some good rest!
There’s a familiar bible verse in the Old Testament, Psalms 119:105 that says, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
While I know God’s knows the future this verse reminds me that God is also a God of the present moment.  God has provided us what we need to do to take the next step.  That’s all we needed for the moment.  God has used your prayers and friendship to provide strength and encouragement and God has also provided enough insight for our feet to take another step on the path.  While this is a marathon, we just need to go one step at a time and not be overwhelmed.  We are not looking for a 5 year strategic plan with SMART goals. 
We are looking for a light, so we know where to place our feet for the next step on the path. 
We are looking for strength for the moment, insight for the next step, and hope for the future. 
We have all that and more in our faith in Jesus and in the blessings of your friendship – oh and lets not forget from doctors and nurses who know what they are doing :).In your own journey, may you experience the power of God which is able to split the seas, help the lame to walk, blind to see, and calm the raging seas on our lives.  Here’s a song that speaks to the power that Jesus has and offers to each of us.  Click here to listen.

May His peace be yours today….Love

Juno and the rest of the family….
p.s.  Unless something changes, I’ll send my next email on Monday evening….


It’s almost surreal that I am here in AZ helping my dear wife fight the battle of her life while the rest of the family is in Michigan reflecting on my dad’s life. A special thanks to my friend and fellow pastor and wounded healer Chris Richards for sharing this at the memorial service.
Funerals and weddings have a couple of things in common…they are events that provide us the natural opportunity to:
  • to reflect on our yesterdays memories,
  • today’s realities and
  • tomorrows hopes
On days like today we all pause and evaluate on what matters most in life.  Most of us are so stubborn and set in our ways that its not until the pain and tragedy of death crosses our paths that we slow down and take inventory of the lives we are living.
Was Dad a perfect guy, nope. But I am confident that he did the best he was able to do in any given time.  The reality is none of us here today are perfect either and sooner or later the roles will be reversed and there will be people at each of our funerals. 
As I think of Dad several things come to mind:
I remember Dad chaperoning some of the guys from the church group I was a part of to a Tiger Baseball game, and him buying hot dogs for all the kids in the row!  WOW, I’m not sure I’d even do that!!!!
That same group of guys from church would do an annual bike trip from Trenton to this very cemetery and we would camp in the very back (and I promise I never messed with any tombstones in the middle of the night – just a little too creepy for me), well Dad would help drive all the ‘gear and supplies’ over to our camp site so we would not have to hall everything on our bicycles.  While Dad did not find himself in the church pew often, he was more than willing to help in other ways.
We often travel down to Marco Island Florida, and I remember how McKenzie always wanted to go with Papa into the gas station…not only was he paying for the gas but he was ALWAYS buying her some type of treat or drink.  On one trip Dad bought himself a hot dog from a gas station (I’m assuming no one there is saying he was health conscious) and handed it to her while he was getting settled in.  By the time he got buckled in, McKenzie had ate the hot dog.  She thought he bought it for her!  For awhile she had a craving for gas stations hot dog, but thankfully has over come that urge.
It was almost 21 years ago that I brought Bonnie over to dad and Betty’s to meet them for the first time. Despite previously stressful years within the family, Dad and Betty welcomed her with open arms (they probably knew  ‘this was finally the right person for me’ and were thrilled the search was over)… and of course Dad made his usual comments about us sleeping in different bedrooms but said we could sleep in the same bed but he would have to out a board between us.with open arms this young lady I was dating. 
Obviously I appreciate the love and concern that Dad and Betty had for my family.  The many trips they made with us to Bonnie’s alternative treatments, playing cards on Sundays, and the Annual visits to the dog tracks with McKenzie when they visited us here, all very good memories.
As you know Dad could spend HOURS and HOURS watching every sporting game on TV.  While there was never going to be a Hienzmen Trophy winner (I can’t even spell it) I am confident Dad was proud of that I followed the dreams in my heart and chose a profession that lined up with how God created me.  I remember at the first church I served, it was after Dad and Betty retired, they were in the pews more than some of my church leaders :).  Obviously, McKenzie was a big draw for them at that point, but nonetheless their presence was very supportive.
I think what I will remember most is probably his relationship and love with our daughter McKenzie.  McKenzie will remember dad as Papa, and he was a GREAT Papa to her. 
I remember driving to the courthouse for the final hearing to make McKenzie’s adoption final. As we pulled into the parking lot Dad said, “Don’t worry about anything, if anyone tries to take her back I’ll hire the best lawyers out there.” 
McKenzie remembers Papa liked to talk and talk to her (and you wonder where I got it from) and she recalls all the stories he told her, again, and again, and again.  Even though after a while she could probably repeat them verbatim the times with her and him just sitting on the couch just talking about, “the time when….” helped to created a relationship with McKenzie that she will not forget.
May all of us remember that God’s love isn’t dependent on if we attend a church, on how much we give in an offering plate.  God’s love isn’t determined on what side of the tracks we live on.  It’s based on our hearts response to Jesus.  We are thankful that as McKenzie insisted, that Papa was a believer in Jesus, not just believed that Jesus was Jesus, but that Papa asked Jesus into his heart.  We live in that hope and that reality, that
God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoso ever believes in him should now perish but have every lasting life.
I guess that’s what they often refer to God’s love as Amazing Grace…My prayer for all of you today is that you also will lean into the Hope we find in Jesus so that you can experience God’s Amazing Grace.
Thanks for listening and thanks for supporting my family today.

Tuesday PM – Oct 6, 2009

Tuesday, Oct 6th.

We (Juno & Bonnie) left the house at 1:00 for her doctors appointment…two doctors, three offices (they sent us to the wrong office to begin with), numerous phone calls along the way (trying to find the blasted hospital – doctors may be skilled in their areas of expertise, but giving directions isn’t one of them), one ER room experience (the experience from hell – I need to be on some focus group on how to improve customer service when the patient is throwing up, and about to fall out of her wheel chair from fainting), one hospital admission and 9 hours later, I returned home (oh and one Sonic burger and onion rings too).We are thankful that Bonnie was admitted to Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix.  Not so much for their ER, but because she will be seeing a team of three top notch Liver surgeons.

The latest (and folks this changes by the day, depending on who we talk to)- Bonnie’s larger veins going to her liver are blocked (blood clots) and she needs to have the blood clots removed (they use the term rotor ruder).  Those comments were made by the doctor who said, “But I don’t work on livers anymore, so I can’t help you.”   He then suggested one of two hospitals with expert liver surgeons – one being Mayo (here in town) and the other Banner Good Samaritan (where we ended up going).  Remember, we are in the doctors office, Bonnie can’t walk 10 feet to a bathroom and the doctor says, ‘sorry for having you make the trip.’  So there Bonnie lays on the examining table, as I’m on the phone trying to figure out what do I do with my bride.  Finally I say, “Bonnie you are not looking good, we’ve got to do something.”  It’s about 3:00 and all I know is that I am NOT taking her home in this condition.

Obviously since we remained in the examining room so long after the doctor left, we were to become squatters so we needed to leave.  With permission, we borrowed a patients wheel chair and returned to the van where more calls we made.

We started to return to the hospital that Bonnie was in from the previous week (another 40 minute drive).  It’s 3:30ish, I wasn’t sure how to get there from across town, so I pull into the nearest parking lot.  So if any of you from the area so our van in a shady part of town, in a parking lot of a very questionable establishment:

  • it wasn’t me going inside to meet some friends Jack Daniels and Jim Beam
  • it wasn’t me going inside to share the faith
  • it wasn’t me looking for a good home cooked meal
  • It was just Bonnie and me, parked so I could focus on trying to find a hospital (where’s a GPS when I need one?).

We turned around and went to Banner (about 10 minutes away).  Once admitted they administered some IV’s to Bonnie – we told them two hours earlier she was dehydrated – and they started numerous other tests.  The good news is her hemoglobin was 11!  I would have lost that bet, based on her condition we were both certain it was dropped considerably.  The admitting nurse was surprised they admitted her, but said our Naturopathic Doctor had contacted the Liver Specialist and they were already aware who we were there and were ‘committed to finding an answer to this situation.’  The nurse inquired about how we found out the names of these doctors.  We shared the previous doctor didn’t work on livers and said she needed someone with a high level of expertise and recommended these guys.  She said, they were so good and that they are transplant specialists! Depending on what the doctor’s say and their plan of action, will determine if I fly to Michigan for my Dad’s funeral service.  After discussion with McKenzie we decide that she would not be returning for the service.

Juno, Bonnie and McKenzie

TUESDAY – OCT 6, 2009

Here’s a another quick update (these 4:30 AM emails need to stop).

Wednesday, September 30 – Saturday, Oct 3rd.
Bonnie was in the hospital, as Juno and McKenzie were in Michigan visiting his dad.  Bonnie received a total of 4 additional units of blood.  They ran several tests.  Nothing was definitive on the reason for bleeding. 
Oct 1 – 4th – Juno and McKenzie returned from visiting Juno’s Dad.  Juno, with he help of his nephews did about 7 hours of work in the gardens.  McKenzie visited her very good friend Hanna and obviously sat with, cried with and prayed for PAPA.  McKenzie was satisfied hearing that Papa believes in Jesus, she wanted to know if he was a believer in Jesus.  So the morning we left Juno had a conversation with Papa, in front of McKenzie, that Papa, loved Jesus with his heart.  McKenzie felt MUCH better that this would not be the last time she would see Papa.

Monday, October 5th.
Early in the day, Juno made appointment for Bonnie to see a new doctor (to try to figure out the bleeding) on Tuesday afternoon. 

Bonnie had a very rough day.  Not feeling well, not keeping down fluids, weak, etc… Her Naturopathic doctor made a house call at 7:30 PM and administered IV’s.  Bonnie improved enough that we did not need to take her to ER.  It appears she will need either additional blood or hospitalized in the next day or two.

Bonnie’s mom is still in town and we decided (thanks to a suggestion of Bonnie’s sister) to have mom stay around for another couple of weeks (just in case Juno needs to fly back).  Mom is a huge help with Bonnie during the day.  Well let’s be honest Juno likes not having to do laundry :).  Now if he can get Mom to scalp the lawn and plant winter grass seed – life would be good :).

Juno has conversation with McKenzie about Papa’s health and suffering.  Juno’s Dad’s health continues to digress. 

Tuesday, October 6th
About 1:30 AM (Michigan’s time), Juno’s Dad meets Jesus face to face (aka he passed away).  We are thankful that his pain and suffering is done.  He was 84 years old.

My (Juno) plans to return to Michigan to officiate the funeral service are all dependant on what we hear at the doctor’s office today about 2:00.  If travel arrangements can be made for other family members to get into town, it appears the service will be on Friday, at the Michigan Memorial Gardens.  We know that Bonnie will not be making the trip.  We’re not sure about McKenzie going either, that conversation has yet to occur.

For us as a family the primary concern and priority remains with Bonnie.  We (the doctors) have got to determine what is causing this bleeding.  So your prayers that the doctors can figure things out are most appreciative.  Be praying that Juno will be appropriately assertive with the doctor’s/hospitals or whoever to get some answers…and to get the answers sooner verses later!

We are thankful for good conversations with Papa –

Grateful for the gift of life…the encouragement of friends…for people gifted in so many different ways…for the reminder of the gift of the life and the reality that life on this earth is a vapor compared to eternity.  There are so many things we all worry about and spend energy on…but as someone once said, “In light of Eternity, what difference does it make?”

May your day be filled with making an eternal difference.

Thanks for making a difference in our lives…

Juno, Bonnie and McKenzie


SEPT 30, 2009


Here’s a quick update in order of dates…
September 11 – Bonnie had two more units of blood.
Sept 13–  WOW, what an incredible evening of Hope & Encouragement.  People were thrilled to be a part of this ‘concert with a purpose.’  Great turn out, wonderful spirt among everyone, generous hearts.  We felt honored and blessed.  Bonnie and McKenzie did a great job sharing with the people.  I’ve been trying to get some clips loaded so I could email them, but I have not been successful.  – thanks for your patience.
Sept 14 – a good two weeks for Bonnie
Sept 17 – 19 Juno flies to Michigan to visit Dad.  Dad is also in a fight with cancer.  Thankful Bonnie’s mom is here to help while Juno is gone.
Sept 18 – Bonnie has MRI
Sept 24 – Bonnie, Grandma, and Juno attend McKenzie’s swim meet
Sept 25 – Bonnie receives another two units of blood- McKenzie turns 16 celebrate McKenzie :).
Sept 26 –  The party continues :).
Sept 30 – MRI appears to provide some answers concerning the bleeding.  Appointment made for specialist.  Hour later –  blood count returns low and Bonnie’s beginning to show more signs of fatigue.  After numerous phone calls with several doctors Juno takes Bonnie to ER in Scottsdale Shay Hospital for two more units of blood.  The specialists we were supposed to see next week was working at the hospital and will see her for the consult first thing on Wednesday AM.
Bonnie was transfused two more units of blood.  Her Hemoglobin was at 7.3 and is now 9.7.  We met w/surgeon at 1:00 PM.  He needs to narrow down the reasons the veins ‘are loosing blood’.  He will call in a couple more specialist to provide insight.  A cat scan was among the first of many tests/x rays.  She is feeling much better.
Oct 1 – 4 – Juno and McKenzie are scheduled to fly into Detroit to visit Dad and Papa.  On Sept 30th, Hospice was called in to assist in managing care for Juno’s Dad (aka Papa to McKenzie).

Don’t forget if you want to receive the email updates directly, email jsmalley423@gmail.com your email address.  Your prayers are a gift – Thank you!