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Jun 30, 2009

About Our Blog & Answers to "What Happened?"

We've had several questions in the past few weeks about "what happened to your blog? It's not about Abby anymore (or your family). A lot of people feel this way".

We listen and take notice of feedback. We aren't running a popularity contest and you can't please everyone but we recognize it is a PUBLIC BLOG, and if a public blog is not something the intended audience wants to visit repeatedly, then what's the use? So here is a response from both of us.

From Michelle:

First of all, you are right, I haven’t been posting very many pictures or updates about the kids. For a while I wasn’t getting very many comments when I posted or many questions about Abby and the other children, so I wasn’t sure how interested people were in those things at this point.

I love to take pictures and share them on the blog. I love to talk about my wonderful children. Knowing others care about Abby and love her enough to spend their time praying for her is more comforting than I can express. A cancer mom’s biggest fear is their child relapsing, the cancer returning. Knowing others are praying goes a long way towards calming my heart.

It is weird, now that we are not dealing with huge crisis with Abby, there is a lot more time to think about how sick she really is. I know other mom’s of cancer kids have gone through this too. When things calm down, it is a blessing, but it also gives us too much time to think. Unfortunately, at this very moment, a friend who I care a lot about, is sitting beside her daughter, in a hospital, dealing with her daughter’s relapse and the stubborn cancer cells that are still present in her bone marrow. To get the transplant she desperately needs, they have to destroy the cancer that has invaded her daughter’s body. Cancer stinks.

None of that is pretty or fun to read about, but it is where I am at. I am not living in fear, but I am also not able to escape the reality that our world has changed.

I would love to refocus, to write more and post more pictures. Brent would love it if I would post more. He encourages me to do it all of the time. Brent loves to answer the questions and does a great job at it, but I need to step up to the plate and post as well.

What would you like to know about Abby and the other kids? What would you like to see on our blog? Is there anything you are curious about?

We would love to meet anyone who has been following our story and praying for Abby, if you are ever in Oklahoma. We love getting to know the people who have been praying for Abby and Abby would love to give you a hug.

From Brent:

My gift is writing and teaching. I answer questions because people ask them. I write and write and write every day on this blog, my blog ( and my ministry blog ( As long as there is interest and people keep asking questions, I'll answer them. I already shifted non-family answers over to and to that they would not be "in the face" of readers who didn't care to read them.

I have so much work, ministry and book writing going, that I find it hard to make time to do a lot of "fun" stuff (photo's, demo's, "true or not true", etc) but if it helps to make this blog more enjoyable (which makes my wife happy), then I'll try to make more time for the fun family stuff as well as the writing.

As one commenter put it, no, this is not the "question and answer blog"... it the Riggs Family Blog. And the Riggs' get asked alot of questions, and we are happy to make a difference in people's lives. Every blog and every family has something that makes it unique, and answering questions, doing demo's, cool photos and creating blog stuff for our readers is what makes us different, good or bad.

I didn't publish the comment, and won't mention the name (because I doubt they meant it as ugly as it sounded), but NO, we have not "put Abby on the back burner". The blog is about everything my wife and I choose it to be about. Different times, situations and seasons will bring different content and different emphasis. The reason why it has felt more like "Brent" than Michelle in the past few weeks is that she just needed me to pick up and carry the load for a while. There have been some comments that I hijacked the blog to promote my business, but that is simply untrue.

We want people to enjoy or blog, but most of all, we want our lives to make a "Kingdom difference" in your life. You may not choose to embrace our Christian beliefs, but our joy, integrity and honesty can still be an example to anyone no matter what they believe. We pray our love for our kids and our love for YOU will make our blog something you want to visit often.


Spidey Landis hits a perfect landing down the
slide and ends up in spot on web pose.

Abby holding a frog in Indiana. Abby was thrilled.
I was standing by with hand sanitizer,
holding my breath until she was done.
Yep, I (Michelle) am a wimp.
(From Brent: she can change diapers,
deliver babies, and do major wound care, but those
AWFUL little frogs are just too much)

Official Launch of MckLinky - $100 Contest

MckLinky was created by Brent Riggs and co-inspired by MckMama.

MckLinky was born from need. There was a time when there was only one "linky" service available and it wasn't exactly Mr. Reliable.

As I (Brent), thought about using link lists on my own blogs, I did not want to rely on a service that had a growing history of having problems or being unavailable. So as a programmer, I simply decided to create my own linky system to use privately.

Over time, others asked me about being able to use my system. I got to together with my good friend, MckMama, who has linky lists of hundreds, sometimes thousands of links, and we brainstormed the idea. As we were thinking about names, it became obvious that a takeoff on "MckMama" was the right choice... MckLinky.

We came up with a list of the best and worst aspects of how linky lists should work and planned to create a simple, reliable system that included the easiest and most useful features.
Brent and MckMama launched MckLinky as a free service offering the BASIC MckLinky to kick things off. Very quickly, they will introduce several new kinds of linky lists that will allow users to have fun on their blogs offering users the ability to do MckLinky lists for things like picture caption contests, ask a question or create an idea list.

We hope you enjoy MckLinky and get a lot of good use out of it. Please free free to contact us any time with suggestions, comments or questions.

$100 Tell Your Friends About MckLinky Contest

We appreciate people helping us spread the word about MckLinky. So we are going to run a one day carnival, and everyone who participates will go into a drawing for a hundred bucks as our way of saying thank you.


Here’s some suggested wording for your post:

  • There’s a great new “linky” service available and I wanted to let you know about it. It’s called “MckLinky” – After realizing the need for a new, reliable link-list capability, Brent Riggs and MckMama got together to create a free, easy to use linky service for all their blog friends.

    MckLinky is a free links list feature that allows you to do include lists of other blog links like MckMama does on Not Me Monday. Some people call them “carnivals” or “memes” but you can use MckLinky any time you want your blog readers to leave a list of links on your blog. It’s simple, reliable and free.

    Check it out here:

MckMama is running the contest here:

Questions? Feel free to email me. I hope you enjoy MckLinky. Let me know of any ideas you have for new tools or features on MckLinky.

~ Brent

Jun 28, 2009

Open Season Questions

Hey, have you guys run out of questions, or have we run every one off?

We love answering whatever questions you may have: life, relationships, parenting, marriage, business, online stuff, blogs, graphic design, Bible, Christianity, the world...

I know its unpopular to actually take a stand on issues these days, but I guess we'll just have to live with it, and accept the consequences.

I'm hoping for a fresh round of questions this week on a variety of topics. Can you help us out?

Jun 26, 2009

Open Season Answers By Brent

Migrainemama asked:
Why do many put such blind trust into what celebrities/etc. say on their shows. So many take what talk show hosts/news media etc. and accept it as unbiased truthful information. While sometimes this may be true is not the whole industry profit driven-thus putting out their what sells and is for entertainment, not necessarily education and truthful. Any thoughts?

I answer this at here:

Gary asked:
As a Christian, I'm getting more and more uneasy about Oprah. She seems to be moving farther and farther from her Christian upbringing. Do you know anything about what she is teaching now?

See my answer above. You are correct in feeling uneasy. She is not only promoting questionable medical and psychological fads, she is constantly promoting false spiritual advice and leading people astray... VERY VERY astray.

Peggi asked:
I was wondering how blogger and blogher work. I have noticed people talking about how you can make money with the number if hits to your blog (using the work you in general, not directed at you). Is it the number of people who come to the blog or the number who click on the adds?

I don't have any experience with blogher, but I assume they pay you a commission for ads that appear or are clicked on. Anyone out there want to answer this question?

Mandi from Montana asked:
I am wondering why you haven't answered my question yet. I have been asking it now for 3 weeks. I would really like to know your beliefs, views and opinions on speaking in tongues. Personally or what your church believes... whatever. Thank you. I would also like to add that I am a total fan of your blog :)

This is a topic that I would rather discuss with you in private. I don't see a benefit to answering it publicly because there is already so much teaching out there on the subject. Email me directly, and I can answer any specific questions you have.

Kristi asked:
Whoa, wait a minute...reading that stuff up there im getting a little confused, the comment about I haven't been following more than a couple you have negative feelings toward the catholic church? *just curious*

A misperception got started among the commenters. See my answer about this here:

Janie asked:
Brent, I have followed your blog, and have prayed much for Abby. However, I am very disappointed that you seem to feel that my Catholic faith will exclude me from heaven. As the prior person posted, I believe in the son of God and his teachings. He stated that he is the truth and the light. How is it that you believe that I will not sit at the feet of our Lord, just as I believe you will?

I never said any such thing. That misperception got started among the commenters. See my answer about this here:

Brent Riggs asked:
Second comment: wy-not said... Hi Brent. I am wondering about the broad definition of *Christian* as it is seen by the world. I have this suspicion that Heaven is going to turn out to be a beautiful, serene place, maybe a bit like an alpine meadow-slash-white sand beach (I can dream, cant I) where we all are blown away by the profound sense of peace, acceptance, love and lightness of heart. But Brent, I think I will see my devoted Catholic friends there too, many of whom have dedicated their life to Christ.

See my answer here:

Brent Riggs asked:
Here's the first comment: The Liebers said... Would you consider a Methodist and a Baptist to be *unequally yoked?* All are Christian. They might have different beliefs about minor bits, but Catholics believe just as strongly in heaven as other Christians. We believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to save us from our sins. We believe in the Bible as the word of God. We believe in the Trinity. I am afraid that many of your concerns come from a serious misunderstanding about Catholicism.

A strong belief in Heaven is not the litmus test for being equally yoked. Do you remember the Reformation? That resulted in thousands of deaths and centuries of conflict because of disagreement over significant areas of Christian doctrine, not "minor points". Those differences still exist today. The differences were so significant that an entire portion of human history ("the Reformation") was labeled by it. There is a big difference between a "Bapist and Methodist" and a "Baptist and Catholic" doctrinally speaking. To deny that, is to say that all the people involved in the Reformation, on both sides, were divided over "minor points". The differences that Protestants and Catholics are significant enough that they carry those separate labels... hardly "minor points" and certainly enough to be considered "unequally yoked".

Can Baptists be saved? See my answer: Can Catholics be saved? See my answer:

Brent Riggs said:
I'm going to post two comments that ask questions about previous answers I gave (concerning Catholicism). I appreciate the respectful tone, and the fact that honest, sincere people can have a conversation about things they may end up disagreeing about. Those kinds of comments and questions are a joy. We all answer to God in the end, not each other. So it's okay if we disagree. God will be the final judge, not me, not you. Its good for us to honestly discuss these things. BR

Twin Pics

Twin deers in the headlight.... we look equally clueless about life.
Can you guess which one is me?
That's me on the right (as you look at the pic).

Yep... happiness. I love that age with kids when all of life is still fun
and being best buddies. Then you grow up and mess up everything.
Can you guess which one is me?
That's me on the LEFT (as you look at the pic).

Open Season Friday - June 26, 2009

Open Season Friday

Open Season Friday's are when you ask us anything you want, and we post up several answers today and over the weekend. We try to answer as many as we can. If we missed your previous question, feel free to post it up again.

Ask your question using the form below. Don't be bashful, ask anything you want... questions about:

  • our family, our life, adoption, cancer, parenting, marriage, marriage, family
  • blogging, photography, technology
  • marketing, personal finance
  • the Bible
  • what we do professionally...
  • ask for advice
  • WHATEVER.... hey, it's OPEN SEASON!!

Jun 25, 2009

Abby's Clinic & New Pics

From Michelle:

Yesterday's clinic appointment was a little tougher than I expected it to be. Abby was more anxious than she has been in a while. She sat still for the procedures, but shed a few tears. She tries so hard to be brave, but she is a little tired of getting poked. I don't blame her. She bounces back quickly, and is able to play and smile when the yucky stuff is done. The physician's assistant decided to give her Ativan before the spinal tap, to make things easier for Abby. I HATE Ativan, because it makes her woozy for the rest of the day. I let them give it to her, because it made it easier for them to sedate Abby for her lumbar puncture (spinal tap). I did miss my chatty, energetic daughter, but she gives the best hugs when she is tired. I need to remember that the next time she has a procedure. Time with Abby is so precious, that it is hard for me to let go of any of it.

Her oncologist said something yesterday that frankly I am still processing. She said that she had hoped that Abby would have had an easier time once Abby started her maintenance phase of chemo, but unfortunately she hasn't. She is concerned that it has been so hard to find the best dose of chemo to give Abby. Abby is getting four different kinds of chemo and antibiotic that can also suppress her bone marrow. This is a lot of variables that are effecting her bone marrow's ability to produce blood cells.

She also admitted that she worries that Abby could relapse if she doesn’t get enough chemo.

After holding Abby's chemo last week, her white blood cell count is high enough to restart chemo. Because they have had to skip so many weeks of chemo, she is only restarting Abby on 25% of the dose that she "should" be getting for her weight. Abby only getting 25% of the dose most children get bothers me a lot.

These pictures were taken at our friends, the Lentz's. They had a huge blow-up water slide in their backyard. Our kids LOVED playing on it and said they wished we had one too. It was fun to watch them play so hard.

Carl Lentz's parents were there too. They live out of state, but they have been praying for Abby from the beginning. We appreciate the prayers so much. Thank you. No pictures of them, because they ducked the camera. I thought I was the only one who did that. ;-)

Abby and SpideyLandis had a great time.

The kids played and played and played...

... we finally had to tell them to get out of the pool as it was getting dark.

So You Think I Do It For Fun or Popularity?

From Brent:

Some people think I answer questions and teach because it's fun, or an ego trip, or to gain popularity. Puh-leeeze.

It would be much easier to quit answering questions, quit teaching and quit taking a stand for the Truth. Every day I get emails and comments like the one below. And that is one of the TAME ones, trust me.

I have one calling in life outside of husband and father: teach the truth as honestly, uncompromisingly and lovingly as I can. I only have one source of eternal Truth relating to life and spirituality: the Bible.

Teaching that Truth brings out hatred, name-calling, rejection and loss of popularity, exactly as Jesus said it would.

So what? Nothing really. This is nothing new, I get it every day but I did want to dispel any notion that I do this for some sort of narcissistic or egotistical reason. Life would be alot easier for the Riggs if we just QUIT everything online except putting up fun stuff and pictures.

Below is a little sample comment that was spawned by today's answers. It always breaks my heart to see such a skewed and shallow understanding of the Bible and Truth. Sadly, this is the rule today, not the exception. I can't help but chuckle that people can't see how JUDGMENTAL they are being as they vehemently accuse me of the same:
  • If all sin is equal and it is a sin to judge, I think most of what you write is a sin. You write statements using the bible to back up what you said but truthfully you are just judging. God is not hateful nor vindictive. It is up to him who he saves and what he believes.

    You may sit there and think I have been saved since I was age 10 and I was 100% aware of my commitment and I have always followed God and you may look around and see what everyone is doing wrong but in that you are judging and therefore sinning. I can say bottom line you are going to hell because you are a sinner and here is a quote to back it up, but you are not doing anyone favors nor are you honoring God.

    When Jesus came to Earth he did not spread hate and anger he did not talk about how amazing he was being a non sinner and how according to God everyone else sucked. He spread love, he spread peace, he believed that people should serve God through love and helping. You talking about how right you are and how wrong others are is not loving nor helpful. You "preach" each week sounding judgmental and bitter, I don't read love, I read a man who thinks incredibly high of himself and who feels that he has the right to tell others why they are wrong.

    I am a christian, I made the very same commitment when I was seven. Why not teach the love of God through the stories of your own wrong doing and how you came to see the light through that, how God led you through a harrowing time. You only focus on everyone else's bad stuff and talk about how you wouldn't do it.

    It breaks my heart that you are raising children to judge and hate and then use the bible to back up why they should be able to do that. That isn't what Jesus wanted.

- - - -
Yeah, that sounds exactly like me. In fact, I've got a whole category of posts dedicated to focusing on and talking about how bad OTHER PEOPLE ARE, and how I would never be like them. Click here for a full list of those posts...

Gotta go... it's bedtime and my kids haven't had their "judging and hate" lesson for today.

Open Season Answers By Brent

Denise asked:
I was wondering what happens when you die? Do you go directly to heave, if you believe, or do we have to wait to see the Lord until Judgment Day when he comes again? I've heard people swear both ways and am confused on the matter myself.

I answer this at here:

kg asked:
Why would God send ANYONE to hell? He is the Good Shepherd. He has unimaginable love for EVERYONE, especially those who are lost. Doesn't it hurt Him? Does He send anyone who is truly sorry for their sins, even after they died? I know you really can't answer these questions in full knowledge, but I'd like your take anyhoo.

I answer this at here:

Jill asked:
I apologize for the homosexual question. I didn't mean to upset anyone. I'm new to the site and did not have the opportunity to read all the articles and previous open season answers.

I answer this at here:

dancingal124 asked:
What do you believe about the creation of the earth? Do you think that God created it in 6 days as defined by man or in 6 *days* as defined by God that were not necessarily 24 hours?

I answer this at here:

Fayej asked:
Why don't people just read your blog and the articles you write? I keep seeing the same questions over and over and over and over...Like the homosexual one *will we see them in Heaven* (those questions really upset me). I know you've answered it a bunch of times. Also, how do you stop from pounding your head on your desk by the same questions over and over and over again. Or do you and you've just built up an immunity to pain and injury over the years. ;-)

I don't mind the same questions over and over. I can just link back to the answers. I realize that 1) not everyone has time to read everything I write (I would be concerned about them if they did) and 2) new readers can't be expected to go back and read all the past posts. So ask away... I don't mind repeated questions.

I pound my head over people getting "offended" so easily because we've all lost the ability to realize that WE CAN DISAGREE. Yes! Amazing! We can disagree.. what a concept! We can disagree without insults, without anger, without descending into name-calling and stereotyping. We actually have the ability to say "hmmm, that's interesting. I disagree though." And go on being friends and learning from each other. It used to be a common trait, now it is an uncommon treasure.

Jill asked:
How do you approach a homosexual friend or family member about Christ? Will we see homosexuals in heaven?

Here are some links where I've written on this topic: asked:
How do you make a blog button? do you need a lot of experience?

I need to do a demo on this. Making the blog but is easy or hard based on your experience. If you have no graphics ability or experience, then perhaps spending a few bucks to have one designed that you are proud of is the easiest route. Then, you can just steal my code for posting it up on your site like our "Praying for Abby" badge. I'll send you the code if you ask for it, and I'll try to do a demo soon too.

Open Season Answers By Brent

Lisa asked:
Maybe I missed something here but did Brent use the words *Catholics would be excluded from Heaven?* I didn't get that from his comment. I am not Catholic but Christian, and know very little about Catholicism. What I do not understand is why they use the term Catholic. I mean no harm by my question. I seriously do not know. Why not just use the word Christian if that is what they believe? Or do they believe something that Christians do not believe to be true, to be blunt.

I never said any such thing. That misperception got started among the commenters. See my answer about this here:

Catholics call themselves Catholics for the same reasons Baptists call themselves Baptist, or Muslims "Muslim". It's how people identify with group.

Emma asked:
How did you become a Christian?

I was raised in church and became a Christian at 10 years old. Even at that young age, I had a completely clear understanding of sin and repentance, and the gospel message of Jesus. While there is no doubt some "young conversions" are not genuine, I can look back even now and realize that I had a 100% perfectly clear understanding of the gospel and responded obediently to it.

Marie asked:
To Jill: don't apologize. Actually I'm not sure Brent has answered on how to minister so it's not a repeated question. My question: Is there anything you can't do Brent? You just created your own Linky system, you draw, build, Photoshop...are you some kind of genius?

I don't mind repeated questions. I don't expect people to read everything I've written in the past. I'll just link back to those answers when needed.

Is there anything I can't do? I can't get pregnant, although I can look like it after eating pizza. I can't be a perfect husband and father, not even close. I'm not a genius. I'm just not afraid to learn, try and work hard. I know how to do a few things, but I'm not the "best" at anything. I just do what I can, and hope to live with no regrets, although, regretfully, I know I'll have a few no matter what.

laura in nc asked:
We adopted identical twin boys from VN last summer. Do you have any advice about raising twins so that they appreciate being twins.

Sometimes we assign something magical about being twins. Personally I think the best way to raise twins so that they grow up appreciating the fact that they are twins, is to not over emphasize it or unnecessarily "link" them together when they are young.

It might be cute to dress them exactly alike when they are two years old but by the time they are four or six, parents may still think it's cute, but often times twins resent it. The same would apply to haircuts, or making them both participate in exactly the same things all the time. Raise them as individuals and let them find whatever is special about being a twin through the natural course of their sibling relationship.

Of course I haven't raised twins, but I am a twin. How about you folks out there who have actually raised twins? Any advice?

Stacey G. asked:
WOW, I was shocked when I read what Janie said. I am Catholic as well and I couldn't believe you had said that. I have been praying for Abby in my CATHOLIC church for a while now. I think you really need to explain what you meant by that! Why will I be excluded from HEAVEN?? A faithful Christian...

I never said any such thing. That misperception got started among the commenters. See my answer about this here:

A Young Soul asked:
Do you believe in donating ones organs once they are deceased? If a person does donate their organs, will they have them in heaven? For example, if a person donates their eyes - will they be able to see in heaven? I want a really straightforward answer. I am young and don't understand a lot of what you write.

I answer this at here:

Jun 24, 2009

4th of July Stuff

From Brent:

With 4th of July a couple weeks away, I wanted to point you to some things I've done that may help you and your family celebrate the day more fully. It is crucial during this time when our country is sliding away from its heritage, that we, and our kids, be reminded of them in ways we can both enjoy and appreciate.

Patriotic Videos

Here is a new website I've created with patriotic songs and videos.
Declaration of Independence
A Modern English Rewrite by Brent Riggs

One of my favorite things to do is to rewrite important messages, documents or materials in MODERN ENGLISH so that our generation can benefit from them. Some people criticize this effort as helping "dumb down" today's reader. It is what it is. I can't change reality.

I do not write for a "third grader" but I do compose my rewrites for the level I believe the average adult reader is today. I don't want to avoid the benefit I can bring just to prove a point that we should all have better reading skills.

This paraphrase of the Declaration of Independence is easy to read and understand. If you have never shared it with your kids as a family, I hope you will.

The PDF's are nicely designed and formatted for you to print out, frame and hang in your home or office. They look particularly nice when printed on high gloss photo paper.
The Bill of Rights
A Modern English Rewrite by Brent Riggs

Same thing again as the Declaration... modern English, PDF's are nicely formatted. A very important foundational document that YOU and your family should share together.
Feel free to share any of these with family and friends. It is my blessing and honor to make them all available for free to you, our dear blog friends.

~ Brent

Pray for Me... Pray for Others... June 24, 2009

Pray for Me... Pray for Others

Brent: Facebook - Twitter . . . . . . . . . . . Michelle: Facebook - Twitter

Landis prays so sweetly for everyone in our entire family.

Our Requests:

Abby's doctors are having a hard time finding the right dose of chemo for Abby. Too much chemo and it suppresses her immune system to the point where it is dangerous. Too little chemo and her cancer will some back. Anything we give her to boost her immune system can feed her cancer and make it spread or make the chemo ineffective.

Please pray that Abby's doctors find the best dose for all of her chemo drugs. Thank you for praying.

Pray for these folks:

Friends of our family, Stan & Marilyn lost their 26 year old son this weekend. Clifford was an incredible young man. He was an Eagle Scout from our troop and served our country in the military. His funeral is tomorrow. I am heartbroken for his family. We would appreciate your prayers for his family and friends.

Pray for Me... Pray for Others is where we all get to pray for each other. It is obvious, and we don't pretend otherwise, that we cannot give full attention to every request and comment we receive. This feature on Wednesdays is a time we ask YOU for help praying for others, as they pray for you. Check back a couple of times today for new requests.

Pray for Me... Pray for Others - Instructions:

  1. Use the form below to enter your prayer requests. You must enter an "identity", and put something in at least one of the "pray for me" or "pray for others" in order to be included (links to blogs are not required).

  2. If you link to YOUR blog, please include the following HTML in a post on your blog so that we can create a linked network of prayers (your link will allow others to find us, and be able to participate; make sure you are in HTML mode when pasting this code).

  3. Put out an email or post on your blog and encourage everyone you know to come and join us in prayer.

  4. Look over the list and pray as God leads. Come back and visit the list two or three times today as it will grow all day long.

Remember... if you don't take the time to pray for others, then on what basis can you really expect God to lead others to pray for you? I created this with "community" in mind - pray for you, pray for me, pray for others - so that we are both giving and receiving as a community which is far more spiritually productive than simply wanting everyone to pray on our behalf.

Truth is, many people do not have a community they can ask for prayer. We hope to become that community for them.

Let me know if you have suggestions or questions about Pray for Me... Pray for Others. If this is a blessing to you, please leave a comment and let us all know.

Jun 23, 2009

From Michelle: Abby Update, Pictures & Open Season Answers

Abby Update:

Some of you are asking how Abby is doing. Honestly, both Abby and I are a little down right now. Tomorrow (Wednesday) Abby will need to go to the hospital's clinic to get a IV chemo and a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). The lumbar puncture allows them to inject chemo into her spinal column, so that it can bathe Abby's brain in chemo. This is important because it helps to prevent her cancer from spreading into her central nervous system, but it can also make it more difficult for her to learn.

They will also look Abby's spinal fluid to make sure that the cancer has not spread there. I used to not worry about this test, but several friend's children have relapsed, their cancer has returned and spread, and they are now fighting for their lives. My friends and their children are never far from my mind.

Abby is not worried about cancer. She doesn't like the pokes or being NPO (nothing to eat), but she is not worried about those things either. Abby only wishes she could be home swimming, riding bikes and playing with friends. She wants what all kids wish for. Who can blame her?

We love it when Abby has the freedom to be around groups of people. Abby's white blood cell count was very low a week ago, so even when we were on vacation in Indiana, she had to stay away from public places and wear masks if she was around strangers. We are praying that the clinic appointment is fast, pain free and not too scary for Abby and her counts are better soon. Thanks for praying.

KBM asked:
With Abbys chemo and everything, I know there is a lot of nausea and vomiting. What medication do the Doctors use for this and how well does it work?

For the first 10 months of treatment Abby had horrible nausea and vomiting. We tried everything to help her, include a lot of suggestions from readers. Once Abby's doctors discontinued the medication they used to control Abby's intracrainial hypertension, Abby stopped having trouble with her tummy.

We are very thankful that God has healed her, without surgically placing a shunt to remove the extra fluid around her brain. There are no guarantees Abby will be free from these problems forever, but we are very thankful she is better for now.

Abby is still getting the chemos that caused these problems. We would appreciate your continued prayers.

Meredith asked:
Do you know why its so easy and quick for a celebrity to adopt when it takes a LONG time for an ordinary person? Do you know if its just the money, their name or what?

It is not always easier or quicker for celebrities to adopt internationally. From what I read, Angelena used a good agency and her adoptions with them took pretty average times. When they adopt older children, their waiting time for a referral is short, but that is typical for anyone who adopts older children.

Are there times when it is quicker and easier for them? Absolutely. Paying for the adoption expenses are also much easier for them.

An NFL football player and his wife adopted with our agency at the same time we adopted Sami. Their adoption was very typical for our agency. They offered to bring Sami gifts from us, took pictures of her for us and spent time telling her how much we loved her and how excited we were to be her new Mom and Dad. Their willingness to take the time to tell Sami we loved her was a priceless gift.

By the way, this couple decided to adopt older siblings because they knew it would be harder for them to find a home.

You can usually adopt older kids or infants and older children who have special needs faster than you can adopt healthy newborns, because you don't wait as long for a referral. Sami's adoption took us 4 months, from the time we signed with our agency, until the time I traveled to get her. BUT, Sami was at the orphanage for over 15 months, because she was an older child. So from Sami's perspective the wait was much longer than what weas her parents experienced. I believe that her wait in the orphanage is one of the reasons why she wants us to adopt an older girl and why she talks daily about adopting when she is an adult.

Princess Abby in the pool. She missed swimming most of last summer, so she is thrilled she gets to do it again.

Every drop of water got a huge response from Abby as she got used to the pool. Garrett had a lot of fun watching Abby play.

Landis flirting with the girls.

Landis and Abby with their friends Taylor and Abbie. They had a blast together.


Jun 22, 2009

New Website... New Pics... New Post

From Brent:

New Website

There is so much video junk out there (and junk is very nice way to say "absolute garbage and dangerous visual poison") that I had a quick idea today to create a series of websites that had safe, family-friendly, edifying video material organized by certain topics.

Since 4th of July is just around the corner, the first site I whipped up is about "PATRIOTISM". I'm hoping you'll take a minute to check it out, suggest some more patriotic videos (use the "suggest link" on the site) and then leave a comment with a suggestion for another type of video site.

It's pretty easy to "duplicate" this site, so I intend to create an entire series of video sites for you to enjoy.

From Michelle:

We ran into someone at a local store who was wearing a "Praying for Abby" t-shirt. Turns out it was the sister of one of our best friends. She had recently run a Triathlon with Abby as her inspiration. It was really fun meeting Chrissy and her family.

Enough please...

Hey friends,

I need to address all the "Catholic" comments that are appearing. I will address the many other specific questions that have been asked on this topic but I need to put one thing to rest now.

I never said "Catholics can't be saved" or "Catholics won't be in heaven". Some commenter or question-asker SAID THAT I SAID THAT, and a bunch of people jumped on the bandwagon. In fact, it is exactly the opposite of the Truth I believe.

Anyone can be saved... anyone can end up in heaven. Catholic, Mormon, Atheist, Hindu, Muslim, no religion, all religions, humanist... anyone.

There is an infinite gap between stating that "any individual can be saved" (by believing the Gospel found in Scripture) versus stating whether or not adherence to the publicly stated beliefs of a "religion" or "worldview" can result in salvation.

Any person who believes and responds obediently to the Gospel as found in the Bible can and will be saved regardless of what "church", "religion" or "no belief" they find themselves in at that moment.

It may be an unsaved person that has been sitting in the pew of a Baptist church all their life, a Muslim who was formerly convinced that all others were infidels, an atheist who blasphemed God or a Catholic who believed that membership (or birth into) in the Catholic Church guaranted his salvation. (sigh.... of course I have to preface that by saying THOSE ARE NOT CATEGORICAL STATEMENTS ABOUT WHAT EACH OF THOSE GROUPS BELIEVE... I'm just giving examples to show that anyone can be LOST no matter what group they are in, and anyone can be SAVED no matter what group they are in; so please don't write and tell that you belong to one of those groups and that's not what you believe. They are examples to demonstrate my point).

The key to salvation is a person's belief and obedient response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, period. Whether or not they continue in the same "group" after that is matter of conviction and leading by the Holy Spirit and God's work in their life. That is God's business and for Him to lead each person. I have my opinions but my opinions are only binding on me, and helpful to others as advice if someone asks for it.

ANY person can be saved, no matter what situation or group they are currently part of. It's frustrating when a disagreement with the teaching or position of some group automatically gets turned into "so you don't think they can go to heaven then, right?" or "so you think all {fill in the blank with a religion or group} are going to hell, right?".

Frustrating, but predictable.

~ Brent

New Book on Purity - Update

From the stories I'm receiving, it would seem that pornography and sexual sin are not the PRIMARY domain of MEN. Lots of you ladies are sharing stories too, and that's good in the sense that I want the book to be well rounded and relevant.

Please continue to submit your stories, AND EMAIL YOUR FRIENDS AND ASK THEM TO READ THIS POST...

I understand the male side of things, as I've talked with many many men about this topic. So the stories, insights and experiences of you dear ladies is really helping me to understand both sides (which will make the book better). I'm not clueless about the female perspective on this, but for obvious reasons, greater insight is appreciated.

One young lady, 20 years old, wrote and said she had a problem with pornography. I would love to hear more specifically about how that affects your life and relationships, the temptations, what you are doing to over come it as a young, single woman. If you are that young lady, or have a similar experience, would you submit more detail about your struggle? The perspective of women, and particularly unmarried single women, is something I need to be more educated about, so I can write more effectively for them in the book.

Remember, I'm writing this as a NOVEL, so life experiences help me compose a richer story line.

(Note: in case anyone is concerned, there are NO explicit details being submitted, nor do I want them. There is nothing graphic or tawdry in the stories that are being sent. Thank you for that. Hearing sexually explicit details is both unnecessary and spiritually unwise for me. So thank you for not including them, and if you wondered about that occurring, it is not.)

If you haven't read the last post, that will give you more information about what I'm talking about.

~ Brent

Submit anonymously:

I Need Your Help With a New Book

We were out of town all week, last week, and got in last night. I just realized I didn't put "Sunday Morning Ministry" up for two weeks. I need to plan better next time. Forgive me for neglecting that.

We are also going to start posting more, putting up more pics and writing more family stuff. We've been SO busy with kids and work that it's been hard to keep up.

I'm (Brent) writing a new book about one of the most damaging and epidemic problems in American life, families and the church: sexual immorality.

This will be a NOVEL about families and individuals struggling and dealing with things like adultery, lust, internet pornography, fornication, homosexuality and the sexual saturation of society. Over a couple of decades of interacting with people, I have no doubt this is the most widespread and secret scourge of Christian families and individuals.

Often, embarrassment keeps us from asking for help, reading books or revealing this problem in our lives and families. I'm hoping that writing about this as a NOVEL (a story that still teaches as I am primarily a teacher at heart) will create an opportunity for many people to deal with this topic who otherwise pretend it doesn't exist.

What I'm looking for are real life stories and experiences to give me ideas for characters and situations.

I've set up a completely ANONYMOUS form for you to use. I will not know your name or email address, or anything about you unless you specifically choose to reveal those things. I AM NOT GOING TO USE WHAT YOU WRITE TO ME, IN THE BOOK. I am simply looking for ideas, scenarios and experiences that will help me write a book that is relevant and speaks to the largest number of people.
  • Has pornography hurt your marriage?
  • Are you secretly viewing pornography?
  • Have you been through adultery (either committed it yourself, or your spouse did)?
  • Were you sexually promiscuous before marriage? How has it affected you?
  • Do you struggle with homosexuality?
  • Are you struggling with sexual sin, whether acted on or not? How is it affecting you? Has it hurt your family or relationships?
  • How has the sexual sin of your spouse hurt you?
  • Do you have a spouse, family member or another Christian that is involved with pornography and refuses to stop? What damage is that causing?
  • Did sexual sin led to an abortion? How has that affected your life?
  • What situations or people have you known that have had their lives messed up because of sexual impurity?
DO NOT USE REAL NAMES OR LOCATIONS unless you want me to know them. Change the names and places unless it is about YOU specifically. This is not an opportunity to gossip.

Sexual immorality is the secret epidemic for both Believers and unbelievers. I am going to write a novel about the lives of those caught up in and hurt by pornography, adultery and other sexual sin. It will not just stop there... the novel will take you through lives that have been healed of the hurt, and have found ways to gain victory over impurity.

The book has two purposes: illuminate the secret sin of sexual immorality, and by telling stories, teach people how to overcome it. (Note: I have a series of NOVELS I'm going to write that tell a good story, but TEACH something useful in the process.)

Will you help me? I know just about everyone can tell some sort of story about how sexual sin has affected their life, or someone they know. Would you email all your friends and family and ask them to participate?

We'll never know this side of heaven how many people a book like this will help... how many families will get help... how many marriages might be saved... how many secret lives of pornography might be changed.

Here's the link to the ANONYMOUS form:

Jun 19, 2009

New Linky System - FREE

Several months ago I got tired of depending on a certain "linky" service out there who seemed to be having constant troubles and was down a LOT. I won't name any "Misters" by name, but you probably know what I'm talking about. I just read a couple of blogs today that were commenting about that service being "down" again.

So... being a programmer and designer, I decided back then to simply create my own linking system. I've been using several different types on this blog for months. You may, or may not, have noticed, mine is a little different than what you see on other blogs.

Lots of folks have asked if they could use mine, but I hadn't programmed it to be a PUBLIC SERVICE... until now.


It's free. It's easy. I've been using it for months with no problems. I'm going to create several different kinds of "linkies" but for now I've made the BASIC linky available to all. Just sign up, and use it. It's free... it always will be.

Enter your link below in the MckLinky list for this post just to see how it will look when you use one on your blog. (by entering your link here you also get your link on a highly trafficked site which is always a plus!)

Then, go sign up for your FREE subscription, and you can have simple, reliable and free linkies on your blog from now on.

Hey, do me a favor will ya? I created this for FREE for everyone to use and enjoy... would your return the favor by putting a blurb on your blog and emailing other bloggers to let them know about it? I would be very grateful (and so will they)!

NOTE: You all are the first folks I'm making this available to. IF YOU FIND A BUG or something doesn't work quite right, or could be improve, I trust you'll be patient (since you get to be first to use it), and I'LL JUMP RIGHT ON YOUR REQUESTS. Be sure to leave me an email address so I can contact you about any bugs or errors, or email me directly (

Open Season Friday - June 19, 2009

Open Season Friday

We've been out of town all week, and haven't posted much. So I'm taking LAST FRIDAY's list, and moving it over to this Friday. Add your questions and we'll answer them this week.

Open Season Friday's are when you ask us anything you want, and we post up several answers today and over the weekend. We try to answer as many as we can. If we missed your previous question, feel free to post it up again.

Ask your question using the form below. Don't be bashful, ask anything you want... questions about:

  • our family, our life, adoption, cancer, parenting, marriage, marriage, family
  • blogging, photography, technology
  • marketing, personal finance
  • the Bible
  • what we do professionally...
  • ask for advice
  • WHATEVER.... hey, it's OPEN SEASON!!

Jun 17, 2009

Pray for Me... Pray for Others... June 17, 2009

We are in Indiana, staying on the farm of some of our friends. We came for an adoption reunion. We haven't been able to post much this week but hope to fire things back up starting today. ~ Brent

Pray for Me... Pray for Others

Brent: Facebook - Twitter . . . . . . . . . . . Michelle: Facebook - Twitter

Landis prays so sweetly for everyone in our entire family.

Our Requests:

We are on vacation in Indiana. This is the first time we have gone anywhere as a family since Abby was diagnosed 11 months ago. Blood work yesterday showed that Abby's white blood cell count is very low. Because her body has a limited ability to fight infections, we need to protect her from germs and limit her contact with large groups of people. While it is not what we hoped for, we are very blessed to be staying with friends who have turned their home into a children's paradise for their grandchildren.

Abby's doctors are holding all of her chemo for at least a week. This makes me a little nervous, because Abby needs chemo to kill the cancer cells that are still present in her body, but I have also seen many cancer kids die from infections they get when their counts are low. It is comforting to remember that God is in control and that He doesn't need our help to heal Abby.

Pray for these folks:

My heart is heavy today. Two children who I have been praying for are hurting. Their doctors have given up hope, but their families still hope for healing. Would you please pray for Anika (leukemia) and Christian (brain cancer). Abby has been asking to visit Anika, but unfortunately they live too far from us (Australia). Anikaa's mom was so sweet to us when Abby was in the hospital. Please pray for healing, comfort and strength for their families.

Pray for Me... Pray for Others is where we all get to pray for each other. It is obvious, and we don't pretend otherwise, that we cannot give full attention to every request and comment we receive. This feature on Wednesdays is a time we ask YOU for help praying for others, as they pray for you. Check back a couple of times today for new requests.

Pray for Me... Pray for Others - Instructions:

  1. Use the form below to enter your prayer requests. You must enter an "identity", and put something in at least one of the "pray for me" or "pray for others" in order to be included (links to blogs are not required).
  2. If you link to YOUR blog, please include the following HTML in a post on your blog so that we can create a linked network of prayers (your link will allow others to find us, and be able to participate; make sure you are in HTML mode when pasting this code).

  3. Put out an email or post on your blog and encourage everyone you know to come and join us in prayer.
  4. Look over the list and pray as God leads. Come back and visit the list two or three times today as it will grow all day long.

Remember... if you don't take the time to pray for others, then on what basis can you really expect God to lead others to pray for you? I created this with "community" in mind - pray for you, pray for me, pray for others - so that we are both giving and receiving as a community which is far more spiritually productive than simply wanting everyone to pray on our behalf.

Truth is, many people do not have a community they can ask for prayer. We hope to become that community for them.

Let me know if you have suggestions or questions about Pray for Me... Pray for Others. If this is a blessing to you, please leave a comment and let us all know.

Jun 16, 2009

Eagle's Nest Reunion: New Friends and Answered Prayers

Those of you who are following me on Twitter know that Abby's counts were very low on Wednesday. The chemo is suppressing her immune system to the point where we usually stay home, don't allow fresh fruits and salads (because of the bacteria) and have Abby wear masks when she is around anyone who is not in our immediate family. For those of you who like knowing the numbers, on June 3rd Abby's ANC was 1800 and on June 10th it was 600. No changes in her chemo doses were made at either time. The concern is if she follows the trend, her ANC could be much lower at this point. *

We received Abby's doctors blessing to take her out of state, but he also warned us that if she ran a fever she would need to be admitted to a hospital in Indianapolis. I have heard many wonderful things about the hospitals here, but would obviously prefer to not spend any time at them.

We will be getting Abby's blood tested today or tomorrow, and then we will know how cautious we need to be for the remainder of our time in Indiana. For now we are staying at our friend's farm house, playing basketball, pool and jumping on their trampoline. We are all enjoying our time here. Brent has to work but we are still getting to have some fun together.

We spent the weekend in Indiana at the Eagle's Nest Reunion. I loved getting to talk to some of the people who took care of Landis while he was living in the orphanage, in Guatemala. Abby talked all weekend about meeting Landis's "people". hee-hee

The organizers did a wonderful job putting together the event. We had so much fun talking to the other families who were there and getting to know their children. Abby, Sami and Landis all had a ball making new friends. We met many wonderful families that we would love to keep in touch with and can't wait to attend next year.

While we wouldn't take any risks with Abby for our convenience, we do let her do things that are fun for her and beneficial to her. The families there readily agreed to let us know if any of their family members got sick within a week after we left, so we could get Abby on antibiotics. With some illnesses like Chicken Pox, they will treat Abby before she shows any symptoms. So I took a deep breath, said a prayer, and didn't require Abby to wear a mask. When Abby is wearing a mask her personality completely shuts down, and people keep their distance from her. She would not have and any fun if we had made her wear a mask all weekend.

By Sunday, I was more nervous about where her counts most likely were, so for church she wore a mask and spent a lot of the time watching movies in the van with me. The church we went to was very big a crowded. Honestly, I had reached my limit and needed to go back to being extremely cautious with Abby.

I met Belen three years ago, in an orphanage high in the mountains of Guatemala. I fell in love with this precious little girl and have prayed for her many times. She was 3 when I met her and had been diagnosed with something that will cause her to have to work hard to keep up with her peers. She would have been a joy to any family, but because prospective families would only get read about her and look at a picture, I knew it would be hard for them to find a home for her. Special needs and older children can wait years for family, and too often will wait so long that they age out of the system. I would have loved to adopt Belen, but because Brent and I had only just gotten married, we wouldn't qualify to adopt her.

Seeing Belen at the reunion, with her new family, meant so much to me. God chose an incredible family to bless this special girl. Seeing how much they loved her and how happy she is was a tangible reminder of God's love for all of His children. With Abby's counts being so low, I was one nervous mama. God used this beautiful six year old girl to calm my heart.

Abby playing hide and seek with some of her new friends.

This sweet, beautiful girl had so much energy.
She was so much fun to watch play at the reunion.

Abby and Belen. Belan's family has been
praying for Abby, but has never left a comment.

It was wonderful to meet a family
who is praying for our precious daughter.

We would appreciate your prayers for Abby and the rest of our family while we are away from home. I will post Abby's counts when we get them. Thanks for praying.

* They have to suppress Abby's white blood cells production in order to kill the leukemia cells that are still in her body, but less white blood cells means that any infection is serious. I am relieved that the chemo is reducing the number of white blood cells, but nervous about Abby being exposed to germs.

Jun 13, 2009

Reverse Open Season Friday - June 13, 2009

REVERSE Open Season

A reader idea: "you spend a ton of time answering our questions. Why don't you do a REVERSE open season and ask us questions?" Great idea!

I hope you'll take time to leave an answer. This could be a lot of fun. I'll probably run this on Saturday morning while we are still busy answering your questions from Friday.

Here's today's Reverse Open Season Question:

What is your favorite blog, and why?

(note: I'm not trying to get you to say OURS is your favorite; if it is, great. But we know it's probably not. We really want to know what your favorite is... BR)

Jun 11, 2009

Open Season Answers By Brent

Marie asked:
This is something I have always struggled with - if someone has lived their entire lives without hearing about Christianity (say in a tribe in Africa, or raised in a segregated religious community), will they be punished for dying a non Christian? My Pastor says yes.

I answer this question at here:

Cathy asked:
You are married, your spouse passes away and then you remarry...then you pass away...who are you with in heaven? Is there anything in the Bible to support this? Weird question, but were just wondering.

That weird question is in the Bible, so I'll just have the Lord Jesus answer your question:

Matthew 22:23-33 - The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, saying: “Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.” Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’ ? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching. (NKJV)

Amanda asked:
What is the biblical stance on the death penalty?

I answer this political question at here:

Carolina asked:
I was wondering if you have seen the documentary called *Jesus Camp* and what you think of it.

Nope haven't seen it. Anyone else out there want to chime in?

Jun 10, 2009

Open Season Answers By Brent

Kristi asked:
Does it really matter WHAT religion you are? Or is it more important to just love and know God?

I answer that at here:

Sioux asked:
As a Christian Mom trying to grow in my faith with 3 small children (ages,6,3,and 2) trying to teach and raise our kids as Christians; married to a wonderful, hard-working, fantastic dad, Catholic manly man (not the greatest *talker* esp. about-faith, feelings, etc.) How do I broach the topic of Christianity and concerns that his Catholic beliefs might differ from what our children are learning and concerns for our family being together in the *life after* without *preaching* at him?

That's hard for me to answer because I know so little about the dynamics of your relationship. If your husband is not very open to talking about such things, you probably are going to find some easy, comfortable solution. Any time a person is challenged about long held practice and belief, they tend to be very defensive and closed to honest discussion.

Based on the very little I know about you, and know men the way I do, I would suggest that perhaps you write him a letter that gives him your questions, concerns, and what you think the answers are so that he may consider them without embarrassed or feeling like he's been put on the spot. Let him know that these are things you really need to talk about but that you will allow him as much time as he needs to consider them, and that he can choose the time you will finally discuss it. Assuming he does not put it off for an unreasonable time (months or years), give him ample breathing room to think about things... let God work on him.

I would avoid allowing him to "bring along the Priest to answer questions" and vice versa... don't say "let's get my Pastor involved". All that is doing is setting up battle lines. In your letter, you need to give loving, well thought out answers to those things you think he is going to differ on. If you simply tell him "I don't believe..." something he believes with giving your reasons, and good Biblical answers, then it just becomes a war of opinion. Depending on his level of commitment he may say "who cares" and just not participate spiritually, or he may dig in and decide YOU are the one teaching the kids things he disagrees with.

FYI, this is what is means by "unequally yoked" in the Bible. It's hard enough to raise kids when both parents agree, but when they disagree on deep matters of faith, it becomes a really struggle for the kids to see the truth.

Erin asked:
How many more books is Michelle going to let you write before making you start selling them for actual money?

If everyone would buy them, the answer would be "no more". It's a tricky deal. There are a lot writers out there, a LOT to choose from, much of it free. So I struggle with selling my books to make a living and feed my family VERSUS giving it away for free because I do not want people to NOT get good teaching and good material simply because they can't or WON'T buy it. It may sound a bit self promoting, but there is less and less reliable, sound, Biblical writing (whether direct teaching or novels based upon SOLID Scriptural worldview)... since I am one of those people who provide it, I hate for money to be a barrier to anyone.

For now, I simply put it in God's hands. I put up the free eBooks, and the paperbacks, and trust God for our needs. We haven't gone hungry yet. We live a modest lifestyle but that's definitely okay. If God wanted me to have a million dollars, then it would be on my front porch by lunchtime.

I have a series of novels planned that teach spiritual lessons, the next installment of Ken McClinton's story and a couple of free reports on family and social issues.

Mandi from Montana asked:
What is your stance on speaking in tongues?

When someone is speaking in tongues, my stance is both feet equal distance apart, knees slightly bent, weight evenly distributed, good balance. Seriously, I address this issue on here:

Meredith asked:
I actually just had a non open season question for you Brent but wasn't sure where to ask it. My mother and I ordered Abby t-shirts in April and were just wondering when we'd get them. Thanks, Meredith

Meredith, have you got them yet? If not, please contact me directly so we can figure it out:

Brent Riggs asked:
If you could do only one thing *professionally*, what would it be?

Full time author. It's probably a pipe dream, but hey, I can dream.

I have so many books, even a string of novels, that I want to write. I've probably got 50 ideas on a list for writing projects. Ironically, I could probably put out new book every month or two, along with writing on blogs but I just simply don’t have the time.

Even with what you see me produce now, I juggle that with a job which got 50% pay cut last year, and necessitated me having to pick up "side work" to make up the difference. So between a full time job that doesn't pay our bills, the side work necessary to make up the difference, what you see on the blogs, reports, presentations, magazine and books I do manage to get out, I'm pretty much squeezing out every drop of "writing time" I can get at this point.

But my dream is to write full time and put out quality blog posts every day on all three blogs (, and this blog), a "report" on something each month, the magazine ( and a book every month or two... all of which for me is very doable if I was writing full time.

Over the years I've become a prolific writer sometimes sacrificing perfection in grammar and typing for quantity which some people chastise me for (and that's okay, I appreciate the help when people alert me to corrections). I can easily put out five thousand words a day even with my current schedule, and 15-20 thousand words in a day fully dedicated to writing on something I’m passionate about.

To give you a baseline, the questions I'm answering right now (you'll see them broken into several blog posts this week) is about 4700 words and has taken me about an hour to write. I'll proof these answers myself, but when I write a book or report, I send it off to a friend who proofs for me.

And I never get tired of it. In fact, my biggest frustration is adding several ideas a week to my writing list, and getting lucky to even get to write on ONE of them. Like today... I'm writing these answers, but I have two book projects, one major report, a Bible message series and series of blog posts that I am absolutely NUTS over because I can't find time to get to them. Not to mention a website I want to build for some friends, and another website I want to do for our Sunday school fellowship. Wherefore art thou Eternity? I'll have some time then.

What do you think about the idea I'm most excited about: I want to write a series of novels that not only have great story lines but actually teach the reader something in process... some difficult concept or spiritual lesson.

I'm a teacher by gift, and it's hard for me to simply write a novel that has no other purpose than to entertain. What do you think?

Serious.Life Magazine - New Issue Online

Issue 8 of Serious.Life Magazine is now online...


SeriousLife Magazine Photo Gallery

Since we are going to be publishing 2-4 issues a month, there is a lot more room and opportunity to get your photos published in the SeriousLife Magazine photo gallery.

The only criteria is this: a good photo people will be happy they got to see. That's it!

Upload them here:

We keep the photos on hand, so even if they don't show up in the next issue, they are still available for future issues. We try to publish as many as we can.

~ Brent

Pray for Me... Pray for Others... June 10, 2009

Pray for Me... Pray for Others

Brent: Facebook - Twitter . . . . . . . . . . . Michelle: Facebook - Twitter

Landis prays so sweetly for everyone in our entire family.

From Michelle:

Our Requests:

Abby is seeing her doctor today. I admit I am a little nervous about what her blood work will show. Abby's white blood cell count has been too high, so they have been increasing her chemo doses. Today we will see if that is helping. I will update you when we get home.

We are going out of town on Thursday. The safest trips for Abby are car trips to places with as few people as possible. Over the weekend we will be around a large group of people at a reunion for kids from Landis's orphanage. The kids are so excited, but I am a little nervous about the crowds. If Abby gets sick while we are gone we will have to take her to a strange hospital, with new doctors. I have been assured by parents whose children are treated in Indianapolis that their hospitals are wonderful. So, while I am out of my comfort zone, I am thankful that there are good hospitals in Indiana if she needs it.

After the weekend, we will be staying at a friend's house. They have a very fun and kid friendly home. It is really the perfect place for Abby to have fun.

Please pray that:

We find the right dose of chemo for Abby.

That Abby is infection free and not bothered by side effects during our trip.

For safe traveling and that our family is able to relax and have fun. We have been running hard for a year. We are looking forward to spending time together away from our home.

Pray for these folks:

Mateo a handsome Guatemalan adoptee, who is battling leukemia. He desperately needs a bone marrow transplant. Would you please take a minute and read how you can help him. You just might be the person who can save his life.

Feed the Forgotten is working diligently to feed entire villages of starving people. People are literally starving to death. Praise God they have raised $15,113.83. That is enough to provide 107,956 meals! It will provide for 5,398 people food for 20 meals! It is amazing to me that 14 cents will provide a meal for someone in Uganda. This will literally be saving lives!!

There are 3 more villages who need help. Would you pray for the people who are hungry? Pray that people will step forward to feed them and that their orphans would be cared for and loved.

(note: please write FEED THE FORGOTTEN in the notes section when you give)

Pray for Me... Pray for Others is where we all get to pray for each other. It is obvious, and we don't pretend otherwise, that we cannot give full attention to every request and comment we receive. This feature on Wednesdays is a time we ask YOU for help praying for others, as they pray for you. Check back a couple of times today for new requests.

Pray for Me... Pray for Others - Instructions:

  1. Use the form below to enter your prayer requests. You must enter an "identity", and put something in at least one of the "pray for me" or "pray for others" in order to be included (links to blogs are not required).
  2. If you link to YOUR blog, please include the following HTML in a post on your blog so that we can create a linked network of prayers (your link will allow others to find us, and be able to participate; make sure you are in HTML mode when pasting this code).

  3. Put out an email or post on your blog and encourage everyone you know to come and join us in prayer.
  4. Look over the list and pray as God leads. Come back and visit the list two or three times today as it will grow all day long.

Remember... if you don't take the time to pray for others, then on what basis can you really expect God to lead others to pray for you? I created this with "community" in mind - pray for you, pray for me, pray for others - so that we are both giving and receiving as a community which is far more spiritually productive than simply wanting everyone to pray on our behalf.

Truth is, many people do not have a community they can ask for prayer. We hope to become that community for them.

Let me know if you have suggestions or questions about Pray for Me... Pray for Others. If this is a blessing to you, please leave a comment and let us all know.

Jun 9, 2009

Bone Marrow Drive

From Michelle:

We were warned at the beginning of Abby's treatment that it would be very difficult if not impossible to find a bone marrow match for her if she needed one. She is most likely to match with a person who is Hispanic and Mayan Indian. This is very difficult because Latinos and other ethnic groups are very underrepresented in bone marrow registries.

Since that time I have also watch many families struggle to find a bone marrow match for their child. While the biggest need is for non-Caucasian donors, I have seen many white children who have had difficulty locating a donor. We need every person, no matter their ethnic background, to register as a bone marrow donor.

Because Abby doesn't have a sibling who can donate bone marrow, they won't do a bone marrow transplant unless she relapses. But, there are many, many children who are in need of a transplant today. One of the most helpful things you can do to help them is to register. During this blood drive, all fees have been waved, so it is free for you to sign up.

Below is a message from a family who adopted a boy from Guatemala. Even after chemo, he still has cancer present in his bone marrow. Baring a miracle, he will have to get a bone marrow transplant in order to live. Please take a minute to read their message and to register.

Mateo needs a bone marrow transplant and there are currently no matching donors. He was born in Guatemala and finding a match has been difficult. We need as many people as possible to register and join the database, not only for Mateo, but for any of the people waiting for donors. Any type of donor is welcome, but non-Caucasian donors are dramatically under-represented in the database.

Please feel free to pass this message on!

If you haven't registered with the National Marrow Donor Program, now is the time. During this drive, the testing fee is waived. You can sign-up ONLINE and submit your samples by mail.

1. Between 8-22 June 2009, Go to:

2. Click JOIN

3. Review the medical guidelines

4. Fill out the information so the NMDP can contact you if you are a match

5. Use the PROMO CODE: "swab4mateo" so we can track donors from this drive.

6. Receive your kit in the mail and perform four simple swabs of the inside of your cheek and send them back.

Your chances of matching anyone are about 1 in 20,000 - but if you are THE match, you could be the one to save some one's life. Donors must:

1. Be between the ages of 18-60

2. Meet the medical guidelines (

3. Be willing to donate to any person in need.

If you are a match for someone, there are two methods of donating :

30% of the time: Bone marrow donation is a surgical procedure in which liquid marrow is withdrawn from the back of the donor's pelvic bones using special, hollow needles. General or regional anesthesia is always used for this procedure, so donors feel no needle injections and no pain during marrow donation. Most donors feel some pain in their lower back for a few days afterwards. Mateo undergoes a similar process ever few weeks. If he can do it, so can you!

70% of the time:Peripheral blood cell (PBSC) donation involves removing a donor's blood through a sterile needle in one arm. The blood is passed through a machine that separates out the cells used in transplants. The remaining blood is returned through the other arm. You can donate at a facility local to you and the costs of donating are paid by the recipient or their insurance. FAQ about Bone Marrow donation: