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Jul 31, 2009

Open Season Answers from Brent

Answers by Brent:

I answered all these questions at once because Abby's hospital stay put me behind. My normal routine is going to be to spread out my answers during the week, putting them on the appropriate blog.

glenn2709@verizon.net asked:
Do you ever get tired of praying and they are not answered? Our Emily is inpatient for the 8th time during maintenance, missing our yearly beach trip. She is devastated, as are we. We had so many prayer groups asking for her healing and yet now at this point I am not sure she is going to make it to the beach after all. Why do prayers sometimes not work? We are sad......

First, I'm very sorry for your difficulties. Believe me, I really feel for you.

I think getting tired is a very subjective term. We can get weary, but then are reminded by God that we are not to grow weary, but to keep our eyes firmly fixed on Him. The real objective is not to become fixated on what WE want (although we keep asking God for what we want, ie. healing), but instead, we are focused on God, knowing that whatever He allows, whatever He chooses is exactly perfect, though we may not see it or understand it.

I just finished a series on "Having a Joy — Filled Life in Troubled Times" that you may find helpful. Below is the summary of points I make. You could also replace the word "joy" in the list with contentment, peace, security or faith. Try it... I think you'll find it encouraging:

• A key to having joy in troubled times is a focus on Jesus and not our circumstances.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is to focus on grace.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is to choose to focus on others, praying and blessing them rather than focusing on your own circumstances.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is when we look for how God is using our circumstances to further the gospel and glorify Christ.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is when we remember "to live is Christ".
• A key to having joy in troubled times is to remember that we are not alone.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is to remember that we have already won the battle.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is to remember is a privilege to suffer for the sake of Christ.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is unity through humility.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is humbling yourself like Christ for the sake of others.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is pouring yourself out for others so that you may be a light in a dark world.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is to consider the example of other godly persons.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is having a spiritual mind and not an earthly mind.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is faith in Christ not faith in our religious works.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is putting the past behind and pressing on toward the ultimate prize.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is reminding ourselves of our future destination.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is thinking about our future glorified existence in heaven.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is acknowledging Christ's presence and being secure in it.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is choosing to think about the right things which replace worry.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is knowing that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
• I can have joy in the midst of troubled times because Christ strengthens me.
• I will have joy in troubling times because Christ gives me strength.

I've never thought that it is a case of "prayers that don't work"... it is always a case of our limited understanding and vision. We are not promised the answer WE want all the time, no matter how convinced we are it is the "right" answer. In fact, we could very well consider our answer "wrong" if it does not come to pass because if it was definitively "right", God would have done it.

It's very, very, very, very hard to grasp the suffering and death of children. I don't propose to be able to answer that terrible reality for anyone, seeing as I cannot even answer for myself. Some day, God will help us to understand it, and see His higher purposes.

Angela asked:
My question is, on top of praying frequently, what can we do for YOU? Are there things you need/want? My heart just aches for you guys and I think of you daily. I feel so blessed and want to help but don't know how.

Hmmm... that's a tough question because some of the answers are hard to make public. There's always the difficulty of finances, but that seems to affect everyone these days, cancer or not. Time, strength, good health... all needed to juggle doctors and clinics and drugs. It would be nice to be able to get away with Michelle for a few hours more than once every few weeks.

We don't really think much about "want" because we are thoroughly blessed by all the prayers, kind encouragement and concern of our blog friends. We believe the Bible when it says to be content in whatever situation you are in, and to be joyful in all circumstances. So it's hard to really make a specific list of things we feel we lack or want since every day God gives us exactly what we need for that day.

You are so kind to ask, and to think of us. What a blessing you are...

gette77@optonline.net asked:
What is your view on Rushdoony and his Chalcedon group? Thank you for your time. God Bless you and your precious family.

I think they have funny names. Seriously, I don't know much about the subject, so I'll refrain from offhand comments that have not been well researched. I get in enough trouble talking about things I think I DO KNOW ABOUT, much less things I KNOW I don't know about.

Regina asked:
At what age were you saved? Please share your testimony with us...

Easter Sunday, 10 years old, although I remember it had nothing to do with Easter (wasn't motivated by Easter). I didn't even remember it was Easter. I had decided that week that I was going to "talk to the Preacher" about being saved, which was how my young mind thought to respond back then.

I was young, but I had a clear understanding of salvation and no doubt it was an authentic experience, though like many, I haven't always lived up to that profession. Thank goodness God's mercies are new every day, and we are allowed to forget the past and press on towards the prize without looking back.

Natalie asked:
Your Sunday morning ministries are no longer also in written form and I was wondering why. I used to always read them at work first thing Monday morning, but now I cant. And I miss doing so.

By doing the audio only, I have more freedom to expand on points and go different directions, although I do typically use a SeriousFaith.com message as an outline. You can find hundreds of my teachings and Bible answers at www.seriousfaith.com

Julie asked:
Whats your opinion on the door-to-door religions? Every Saturday morning a group comes to my neighborhood trying to spread their version of the Good News.

I love to have people show up at my door. If they knew what was in store for them, they would pass me up! :) (No, I'm not mean, sarcastic or pushy; I just answer all their talking points with Biblical truth)

Unfortunately, the quasi-Christian religions out there have done a GREAT job at training their folks on how to completely confound and confuse the average Christian. On the other hand, SADLY, we have done a POOR job at equipping ourselves not only to defend our faith, but to defend it against false teaching. The result? Confusion, anger, silly shallow arguments, "go talk to my Pastor, he can tell you"....

We spend years and years learning our job, learning sports, learning a skill, learning a hobby, learning a topic, learning a profession... but on average, almost no time (or little) learning the foundational truths of saving faith and Biblical doctrine which is ETERNALLY more valuable. We think someone has to be a "Bible teacher", "theologian", "Pastor" to be able to define the BASICS of Christian faith:

Salvation - the Gospel
God's omniscience, omnipresent, omnipotence and eternality
Deity of Christ
Duality of Christ (100% man, 100% God)
Authenticity of Scripture
Origins (the literalness of Genesis upon which the entire Bible is based)

Here's a starter list of Christian basics. How many of these do you know:
Repentance —turning from sin; Matt. 9:13; Acts 17:30; 26:20
Faith —turning to the Savior; Acts 20:21; Eph. 2:8–9; Heb. 11:6
Substitution —Christ dying on the cross in our stead; 1 Pet. 3:18; John 10:11
Reconciliation —bringing together through a third party two opposing parties; 2 Cor. 5:18–20
Propitiation Christ satisfying the holiness of God on the cross; Rom. 3:25; Eph. 2:13; Col. 1:20; 1 John 2:2; 4:10
Remission —putting away or carrying away our sins — also synonymous with forgiveness; Lev. 16:21–22; Heb. 9:26; 13:12–13; Rom. 3:25; Eph. 4:32; Col. 2:13
Regeneration —receiving a new nature through the second birth; John 1:12–13; 3:3; 1 John 5:1
Redemption —obtaining by paying a ransom price; Luke 1:68; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 9:12
Imputation —God adding the righteousness of Christ to the believing sinner; Isa. 53:5, 11; Rom. 4:3–8; Phil. 3:7–8
Adoption —wherein the believing sinner enjoys all the privileges and responsibilities of adult sonhood; Gal. 4:4–5; Rom. 8:15–23; Eph. 1:5
Supplication (prayer) —communicating with God; Luke 18:13; Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:13; Jude 20
Justification —God declaring a repentant sinner righteous; Rom. 5:1; 8:33
Sanctification —God setting us apart for growth and service; John 17:17; Eph. 5:26; 1 Thess. 4:3–4; 5:23
Glorification —the ultimate, eternal, and absolute physical, mental, and spiritual perfection of all believers; Rom. 8:18, 23, 30; 5:2; 1 Cor. 15:43; Col. 3:4; 1 Pet. 5:1
Election —being chosen by God; Eph. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 2:9
Foreknowledge —that attribute of God which provided him in advance with all the facts concerning the elect; Acts 15:18; Rom. 8:29; 1 Pet. 1:2
Predestination —God’s eternal plan whereby all believing sinners are conformed to the image of Christ; Rom. 8:29–30; Eph. 1:9–12

HOLY COW!!!! That's too much!!! Right? Are you telling me that learning 25 or so definitions about the only thing that really matters eternally in this life is too much? Only for scholars? Do you know 25 pop culture facts or definitions? How about sports? How about 25 facts concerning ONE sport, TV show or hobby? How about 25 definitions related to your job or your favorite interest?

It's not really a lot.. it's just a matter of what is important.

These are the BASIC PRINCIPLES of Christianity. The Bible tells us that we are to study diligently, to show ourselves approved and ready to give an answer, a defense, of our faith.

It's a soul searching question for every Christian to honestly ask "do I really know the faith I claim has saved me?"

Jessica asked:
In what order should I read the Bible? Is there any particular order that you find helpful, or is beginning to finish the best?

There is no SET order that is required or can be said to be THE way to read the Bible. Reading from cover to cover is always profitable, as this is how God delivered His Word to us.

In addition, for new Believers, or those who don't know the Bible well yet, I find this to be helpful each day:

- Verses from Psalms, where you will find about every situation in life addressed
- Verses from Proverbs for practical wisdom
- Verses from one of the Gospels (Matthew - John) to learn about Jesus life
- Verses from a book like James or 1st John which give the basics of Christian living, joy and faith

As you mature, you should study the Old Testament as well as books that contain doctrine and history like Acts, Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians and Thessalonians. I hate to leave ANY book out of a list because there is NO PART of the Bible that is "less" important to read and learn. But that is a good start for those of you looking for direction.

mel asked:
Hows life in America?

Still probably the free-est country in the world, full of opportunity and blessing... but that is slipping away rapidly as we give up freedom for "State Care" at an alarming rate. Because we no longer teach our heritage and founding principles, people confuse security with government dependence, freedom with lifestyle choices, and God-given unalienable rights with "leave me alone I can do whatever I darn well please" selfishness.

Don't get me started. I promised to keep politics off this blog. I’m not sure it does any good anyway.

Kentucky asked:
What was the song you and Michelle danced to at your wedding?

We didn't. We had the wedding, mingled at a small get together just talking and greeting, then commenced to "honeymooning"... the details of which will go unpublished. :)

Carolina asked:
What are all your family members fave colors. :)

Brent - royal blue; Michelle - greens; Dane - yes; Jordan - depends on the day; Garrett - don't ask him, he'll talk and talk and talk about it; Christian - doesn't care; Sami - pink; Abby - green; Landis - Spidey red and blue.

Can you tell which kids are teenagers?

elle asked:
How do you support each other as a married couple during difficult times?

Talk a lot. Say I'm sorry even more. Always support the other. Care about the others feelings and needs. Stay on the same team, common goals, common convictions. Never waiver in commitment, or give the other any reason to think our commitment is less than 100%.

Ash asked:
What program do you use to let others post their *Pray for me, Pray for others* and *Open Season! Friday* Question Entry? How do you put it in a post? I would like to use the same or similar program on my blog. Thank you :)

I use my own private "MckLinky" for that, but I'm in the process of creating a public version you'll soon find at www.mcklinky.com

That goes for Prayers Requests and Questions as well as several other really cool MckLinky tools.

Photographer in the making asked:
Which Nikon is comparable to a Canon 30D? Also... what entry level DSLR (Canon) do you recommend?

I'm not familiar with Nikons. Entry level? The Rebels are great entry level cameras. All the real lenses fit them, and you can upgrade the body down the road.

Taylor asked:
Hey! Im interested in buying a digital slr camera and I was looking at the Canon Rebel XS camera because it is in my price range. Im not interested in going professional or anything Im just interested in taking better pictures. I have a canon point and shoot really nice camera I love. Is the canon Rebel XS a good camera do you know?

Yep, great cameras. Professional or not, you'll want to invest in at least one good lens that can shoot in low light. They can be pricey, but well worth it. Look for lens with a low f/stop. Learn the basics about f/stop, shutter speed, exposure and focus if you want to take excellent shots. It's not hard, you just have to spend a little time educating yourself. Do a Google search for "DSLR photography basics" and you'll find a lot of good information.

M asked:
How do you know when you should help someone,and when your help has become enabling and you should stop? My dad is jobless,and now homeless. He has ALWAYS tried get rich quick schemes, and NEVER held down a real job. He has *borrowed* large sums of money from MANY people, and is very deceptive. I find myself discrediting much of what he says. But, he is my father, and if he is unable to help himself, I feel responsible. At the same time, I want him to help himself.

If your help enables a person to continue doing that same old destructive things, then you should abstain. If your help will enable them to truly break free from the past, and change habits, then you should help. The trick is being mature enough to discern which is which.

From just what you have said in your question, it does not sound like helping your Dad further is the right choice. Short of giving him food, water and maybe a corner of the garage to sleep in, you should be very very cautious given his past. You don't indicate any real change in attitude or practice, so I would be extremely hesitant and slow to give money or things that allow him to spend what money he does get on his "schemes".

Jennifer asked:
Several posts ago it was mentioned that Abby was hoping to get to go to a ballet camp. Is she going to get to do that? I pray every day that this prayer is answered for her along with many others that you have mentioned.

No. Her latest hospital stayed ended her change at ballet camp for now.

No name asked:
I'm seeing Hannah Samrawit in your blog header... is Sami's new name Hannah?

Sami is her nickname, short for Samrawit. Hannah is her chosen American name, and she has chosen to go by that.

Jenn asked:
What songs make you smile every time you hear it?

Hmmm... wow, I really don't know. Some songs definitely make me sad, but for the most part, the songs I like and listen to regularly usually are "good mood" songs.

"If I Stand" by Rich Mullins definitely makes me smile because it reminds me of my wife. It was a song I had never heard until I met her, so it reminds me of her which makes me smile.

Now, Your Questions...

Every Friday, I do "Open Season" where I take all your questions. Here are the blogs, and which types of answers will go on that blog:
  • Riggs Family Blog (www.riggsfamilyblog.com) - our family, personal stuff

  • Brent Riggs Blog (www.brentriggs.com/blog/) - professional topics (graphics, web development, writing), family, marriage, mentoring, ethics, teens, parenting, etc.

  • SeriousFaith.com (www.seriousfaith.com) - Christian and Bible related

  • MckLinky Blog (www.mcklinkyblog.com) - blogging, search engines, online business, blog improvement, blog graphic, blog photography, blog traffic, etc.
I'm using the same entry form and list on all the blogs, so it doesn't matter from which blog you enter the question. We try to answer as many as we can. If we didn't get to a previous question, feel free to post it up again.

I will spread out the answers on the appropriate blog throughout the week, so make sure you are subscribed to any blog you want to see answers from.

Ask your question using the form below. Ask us anything you want. Here's some suggested topics:

  • our family, our life, adoption, cancer, parenting, marriage, marriage, family
  • blogging, building traffic, growing your blog... anything about making your blog better
  • photography, technology, graphic design
  • writing, communication, brainstorming topics, how to improve your writing
  • marketing, personal finance
  • the Bible
  • business, marketing, online business
  • ask for advice, counsel or wisdom for a personal or professional situation
  • WHATEVER.... hey, it's OPEN SEASON!!

Jul 30, 2009

Abby Update & Pics

From Michelle:

Praising God for no fever today and safe white blood levels. Abby's white blood cell count is still trending down, but we are not in the danger zone yet.

Abby is looking stronger, but has been a little tired today. She has been playing hard with Sami and the extra rest was just what she needed.

Abby's battle with cancer is resuming. Fighting cancer is such a dance. She is still fighting the infection, but appears to be winning that battle. Abby's cancer is aggressive. It has already proven that given the opportunity it will grow fast. The decision was made today to restart her chemo.

I believe it was a very good decision, but I would covet your prayers. Pray that the cancer cells would be destroyed, her infection would heal and Abby would be safe as we try to accomplish both.

Abby really had a nice day. Volunteers did crafts with her and family came to visit her. Abby and Sami have also have made quite a few friends here.

Would you also pray for two sweet babies that we are rooming near. One has wonderful parents and the other sweet baby's parents should be drawn and quartered, then shot (did I say that?????). They left their crying, scared, hurting baby alone because (it appears) they were tired of hearing her cry. They just left and went home. In fairness, I don't know their entire situation, so my impression may be not be complete or accurate. On the surface though, it looks terrible. Would you please pray for healing for both children.

Thank you so much for praying for Abby and for taking the time to encourage Brent and I.


Abby at the crafts table...


... and with one of her nurses. She loves them, and they love her.


Sami hams it up with Abby.
Isn't it amazing how "normal" a kid can look even when they are fighting
a life threatening condition? If only us adults would cope so well...


... and then go to sleep with not a care in the world.
Do you think this is why God says
"unless you become like little children..."?

Open "Season Answer: Response to Hardship

Name Withheld asked:
I've seen others who talk about God alot and then when things get tough, they get all out of sorts and seem to have an "I don't care what anyone thinks..." attitude. All the nice Christian talk seems to go by the way side. What makes you different? I've never seen you all react like that. It is just an image you put on, or do you really remain faithful and trusting in God even when Abby's life is in the balance (or whatever tough thing)? What's different about you and your wife?

Brent answers:

First, let me make sure I'm clear about one thing... I cannot, and do not, judge the heart, spirituality or maturity of other people that I don't know well (and even then, it would only be for the sake of counseling them). We can judge actions and behaviors as right or wrong compared to Scripture, but we cannot and must not, judge the heart-motives of others (this is the type of judging the Bible condemns).

So whatever responses or attitudes others are displaying, that is between them and God, and not for me to comment on, or compare myself to (short of them cursing God or something which is clearly wrong according to plain Scripture). In other words, I would have nothing to say about someone in seriously difficult situation who said "I'm angry at God. I don't deserve this".... but I would say something about someone who cursed God and said He is not faithful or trustworthy. One is based on looking into another person's heart; the other is based on clear Truth found in Scripture.

If another person is responding to hardship with words, attitudes or behaviors that appears to be less than the Christian standard they otherwise profess during good times, you have two options: pray for them or communicate with them directly. Depending on the severity of the situation, we should respond with ample compassion and understanding. We don't know what they are experiencing; we don't know where they are in their walk spiritually. Everyone is at a different point of growth and maturity... difficult times are what HELP us mature. There is no INSTANT strength or maturity, it is gained step by step.

Now, I will answer for the one person I can answer for: me. We've been asked before if we are "faking" our faith and trust in God. Read that answer here...

For us, what you see is what you get. Good times or hard times, we know that the only real hope in this often difficult life is to simply trust God with childlike faith. That is the whole mean of the verse that says "unless you become like little children..."

We've been through a lot and God has given us ample opportunity to learn to live in faith, trust and joy. It is NO credit to us... God is the only source of maturity and faith. He provides the opportunity to grow, He provides the growth, then He provides the blessing of that growth. God, God, God... not us.

Predictably, as you live through experiences filled with faith, trust and joy, it gets somewhat easier to do so in the future. As you see God work, care and provide time and time again, it becomes more and more automatic to respond appropriately and genuinely.

There is no reason to "lose it", get wigged out, curse or abandon self control, either in action or word. By doing so we do not avail ourselves of the blessing God has for us by choosing to calmly, obediently and confidently trusting Him, NO MATTER WHAT, NO MATTER HOW HARD, NO MATTER HOW DIRE.

One of my favorite sayings is "when you squeeze a lemon, you get lemon juice". The point being that whatever is really inside a person, comes out when the pressure is on. So if responses or choices come forth in times of pressure that are LESS than your desired standard, it should serve to TEACH us that we have some work to do spiritually. That work usually involves increasing our knowledge and understanding, asking forgiveness for our poor words or responses, and then setting our mind to be prepared to respond with a higher standard NEXT TIME... and there WILL be a next time, trust me.

Everyone is in a state of "growth" and we should compassionately allow them to grow without being too critical or hard in our estimation. Life is TOUGH. As long as we are learning and growing, then we are moving in the right direction.

I just finished a series on "Having a Joy-Filled Life in Troubled Times" that partially answers this questions and gives a long list of reasons why we can remain authentically joyful even in the most trying circumstances... Find it at www.seriousfaith.com

... like when your 4 year old daughter is in the hospital and you don't know if she will live or die.

You know, times like that.

~ Brent

Jul 29, 2009

Abby Update & Pictures


Abby made me a "bow" from piper cleaners.
Now if I just had some hair to put it in.


Abby smiling and making the best of her
most recent imprisonment.


Abby's doctors have been telling us for a year that kids with Leukemia are can get critically ill (or worse) from minor cuts, common infections and even the "good" bacteria that is supposed to colonize on your skin. This week has been a scary refresher course in that lesson. Every cancer parent knows that we have to work hard to keep our children safe from infection, but the reality is that we can only do so much to protect them and then we pray that our true protector, God, will keep our children safe.

The test results are in. Our doctor said that the ear infection that Abby has been dealing with for the last few weeks, infected her blood and her port. Just a simple ear infection lead to being hospitalized, missing dance camp and getting all of those pokes. A big part of me wishes I could put Abby in a bubble, so that maybe she would be safer.

Over the last few months, Abby has had a taste of freedom and loves it. As hard as it is for me, I need to take a deep breath, pray and let her truly live. Yes, there will be times when her immune system will be so low that we will have limit her, to protect her, but we need to find a balance. Please pray for Brent and I as we care for Abby and make decisions that affect her. We love her so desperately that we will do would do anything to help her win this battle. We are not guaranteed tommorow ~ not any of us. We want to truly enjoy the days we have together.

Abby is doing well right now. She seems to be responding to the antibiotics, but her ears are still infected and it will be 36 hours before we know if the bacteria is still in her blood and port. Her doctor still talks about what they will need to do if the antibiotic doesn't work, but we are very hopeful that we will get good news soon.

Abby's white blood cells continue to trend down. Her ANC is 1920, if it gets down to 750 infections will be very dangerous for her. We are praying it stays high enough to fight this infection.

Our 17 year old, Garrett, is sick. He has a fever, and upper respiratory infection. Abby and Garrett are very close. Please pray that he is well soon, both for his comfort and so that Abby won't be exposed to this when she gets home. Garrett is very careful to not give Abby germs. He would feel horrible if she caught his cold.

Abby is having a lot of fun playing at the hospital. Sami is staying here now and the girls are thrilled to be together again. I love that they can make any place fun.

Thanks for praying for Abby and our family. This was a stressful week for me, but a blessed one too.

We Got Scammed!!!

Remember the 14 year old boy a few months ago who complained on our blog that he had asked for help several times and we ignored him? He had cancer, wanted spiritual advice and just needed a friend?

I reached out to him and....

... we got scammed.

I tell the story over on my blog, and offer advice about it.

~Brent

Abby Update & Pics, Pray for Me Pray for Others

These pictures were taken about a week ago, at Abby's oncology clinic. Sami had so much fun making Abby laugh and smile. Sami stayed at home this week, so that she could attend dance camp. I love that she was able to go, but Abby and I miss her.







Pray for Me... Pray for Others

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

Landis prays so sweetly for everyone in our entire family.

Our Requests:

From Michelle:

Today had some tough moments, but it was overall a wonderful day. Abby was invited to the bone marrow transplant unit to do crafts and pose for publicity pictures for a grant that the hospital is trying to get. Abby was excited about being a part of it, but once she was there she got very sad. Two of the other children there were bald, frail and very sick. They looked just like Abby a few months ago. Abby was sad for them and a little afraid of losing her hair again and getting that sick.

Being in the hospital brings back a lot of memories. Some good, but some really bad ones too. One of the medical staff talked to me about how we could have lost Abby the last time she was in the hospital. She said that Abby lived not because of anything the hospital did, but by the grace of God.

Being reminded of how close we came, a few months ago, to saying goodbye to Abby is hard. The reminders are all around us. Not only do the nurses and doctors still remember, but the housekeeper, valet, and the dietary staff remembers Abby, and how sick she was. It is very comforting to Abby and I to be around familiar people whom we like, but this place brings back some sad memories too. But, there are hundreds of reminders that God has healed Abby many times before and He is in control now.

We are still waiting to see how Abby responds to the antibiotic. Abby's white blood cell count is steadily going down, but it is not to a dangerous level yet. Her ANC has gone from 6700 to 2300 in about a week. If it goes done to under 750, Abby will be in isolation because of her weak immune system.

Abby and I have really had a very sweet day. We have played board games, read stories, made crafts and spent hours cuddling and laughing. I am sad that Abby missed her dance camp, but Abby hasn't complained about it at all. She is such a sweet, happy little girl, who takes all of this in stride and finds ways to make being at the hospital fun.

Thank you so much for praying for Abby, asking others to and for taking the time to encourage us. Knowing that others are praying is very comforting in the midst of this stressful time.

Pray for these folks:

Many of you prayed for Ethiopian adoptions that were hung up in their courts. Many of those families have now passed court and there new parents will be traveling soon to get their new children. Thank you for praying.

Please pray for our friends whose children are sick. Rumi is a precious little boy who has been battling leukemia. He is in the hospital with a serious infection.

Please continue to pray for Anika and her sweet family. http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/anikawilke/journal She is getting closer to the end of her battle with leukemia and her family is hoping for more time, some pain free days and more happy memories, before they say goodbye. Would you please join me in praying for her healing, relief from pain and strength for her family. Anika will be nine in a few days. Please pray that she is still here for her birthday and able to enjoy the day.

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.

Jul 27, 2009

Blog Hop 7/28/09 - Favorite Kid Photos

This week's Blog Hop theme is "Favorite Kid Photos": one or more of your favorite photos of kids, grandkids, someone else's kid or even YOU when you were a kid. Funny, precious, heartwarming... your favorite!

Get the blog hop code here...


The many faces of Abby; happy even when in the hospital.
She was admitted again today for the 25th time this year.
We appreciate your prayers and will keep you updated on this blog.



MckLinky Blog Hop

Abby Update - Monday 8:18pm

Abby's doctor was just in. She is concerned because the antibiotic that they need to treat the bacteria growing in Abby's blood, is one that Abby is very allergic to. The last time Abby had it, her airway swelled badly and she had trouble breathing.

They are trying a different antibiotic, but she warned me that if it doesn't work, they will probably try the antibiotic Abby is allergic to. She said, "If it means her life, we will need to talk about risking it and giving her the Vancomyacin." Since it made Abby's airway swell the last time they gave it to her, I am very nervous about them giving it to her. They are concerned that the antibiotic won't work and are trying to prepare us.

I really trust the person who will be taking care of Abby this week. She has been helping cancer kids for decades, is conservative, believes in God and she really cares. I asked her how serious this infection is and said that healthy people can die from this. Not what this mommy wants to hear.

We are reading all of your comments, tweets and facebook messages. They help more than you can know. Thank you so much for taking time to pray for Abby and to encourage us.

We would really appreciate you posting prayer requests for Abby and asking people you know to pray for her as well.


Here's Abby in the hospital tonight.
Most of the time Abby is in her usual high spirits
and unconquerable happiness...


...but still aware of what is going on and
feeling the emotion of it all.

Abby Update - Monday 7pm

Abby was admitted immediately to the hospital. We are encouraged that they have caught the infection in her blood early, and that at this point she has not reached "sepsis" (a total body inflammatory reaction to infection; your whole body attacks itself because of the infection, causing multiple organ failure and high mortality).

She is "septicemic" which means the infection IS in her blood and the potential for sepsis is very real, but with quick and effective antibiotics, there is a good chance to avoid that. Still a very concerning and touchy situation though.

She will be in the hospital a minimum of 4 days, more likely a week or better.

We covet your prayers for the doctor's wisdom in choosing the right antibiotics (Abby has a history of bad reactions and allergies to some of them). And your prayers for our health and strength as we do the "hospital thing" for the 25th time this year. You'd think you would get used to it, but you don't.

Brent

Abby Update - VERY SERIOUS - URGENT

Abby is on her way to being ADMITTED to the hospital.

She spiked a fever yesterday and had to go to the emergency room for tests and cultures. She was sent home with an “ear infection”.

The cultures came back positive this morning for bacteria growing in her blood, a very serious condition that requires immediate hospitalization and antibiotic treatments. Unfortunately, Abby is allergic to a couple of the best antibiotics available, so it will be an educated guessing game to figure out how to treat her.

It is unclear at this point exactly what point we are at, but short of relapse, this is one of the worse developments possible. The positive cultures mean one of two things: she is either septicemic (bacteremia) which means the bacteria is present and growing in her blood and could quickly and easily lead to sepsis (a whole body-wide inflammatory response to blood infection that can lead to septic shock and multiple organ failure) or... she is already in a state of sepsis. We won't know until we get her to the hospital and the docs tell us more. For now it is just "get her to the hospital immediately".

We won’t know the exact situation for a few hours, but both conditions are extremely serious. Best case, Abby will be in the hospital for several days, most likely longer. We’ve been blessed not to do “the hospital thing” for several months but it appears that blessing is over for the time being.

We appreciate your prayers for the doctors to have the wisdom to know which antibiotics to use and how to treat her overall. As you know, Abby has a history of repeated complications. Nothing has been routine or “normal” about her cancer (as compared to what typically happens for most kids).

We’ll keep you updated on the blog.

Brent

Open Season on All the Blogs - Every Friday But Today Too Just to Kick It Off

Every Friday, I do "Open Season" where I take all your questions. Here are the blogs, and which types of answers will go on that blog:
  • Riggs Family Blog (www.riggsfamilyblog.com) - our family, personal stuff

  • Brent Riggs Blog (www.brentriggs.com/blog/) - professional topics (graphics, web development, writing), family, marriage, mentoring, ethics, teens, parenting, etc.

  • SeriousFaith.com (www.seriousfaith.com) - Christian and Bible related

  • MckLinky Blog (www.mcklinkyblog.com) - blogging, search engines, online business, blog improvement, blog graphic, blog photography, blog traffic, etc.
I'm using the same entry form and list on all the blogs, so it doesn't matter from which blog you enter the question. We try to answer as many as we can. If we didn't get to a previous question, feel free to post it up again.

I will spread out the answers on the appropriate blog throughout the week, so make sure you are subscribed to any blog you want to see answers from.

Ask your question using the form below. Ask us anything you want. Here's some suggested topics:

  • our family, our life, adoption, cancer, parenting, marriage, marriage, family
  • blogging, building traffic, growing your blog... anything about making your blog better
  • photography, technology, graphic design
  • writing, communication, brainstorming topics, how to improve your writing
  • marketing, personal finance
  • the Bible
  • business, marketing, online business
  • ask for advice, counsel or wisdom for a personal or professional situation
  • WHATEVER.... hey, it's OPEN SEASON!!

Jul 26, 2009

Sunday Morning Ministry: July 26, 2009

Sunday Morning Ministry

Blessed Lord's Day morning to you!

For those of you who may be at home with sick children or some other reason you are unable to meet with other local Believers, I've prepared a message for your encouragement and edification.
  • Be sure to sign the GUEST BOOK so we evaluate how useful this ministry tool is over time.

  • There is a blog badge below for the "Riggs Family Sunday Morning Ministry" if you want to post it on your blog so others can find out about it.


Or click here to listen using the Yahoo media player...
Independence Day - Part 3

We continue the series on Sunday Morning Ministry about Christian Liberty. This morning I teach you several helpful questions to ask yourself when you are considering what Christian liberty God would allow for you. I hope you'll join me for the next few Sundays!

    Jul 24, 2009

    Open Season Friday - July 24, 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!!


    Jul 23, 2009

    Open Season Answers from Brent

    Answers from Brent:

    A reader asked asked:
    Why is it that Elderly People GOSSIP and JUDGE others (and Nosey)??? This happens ALOT not only where I live but also AT CHURCH. Its difficult for me to understand WHY its so important that if *I dont sit in same pew as parents then *theres got to be strife*. When indeed there is NOT. Or if a male friend stays overnight *we must be having sex* which is farthest from TRUTH.

    I answer this at www.brentriggs.com here:
    http://www.brentriggs.com/blog/?ItemID=403&ParentCategoryID=174&t=Them-Gossipy-Old-People&c=Life

    E asked:
    Despite my personal commitment to Jesus and my involvement in a church community, I have had some basic doubts about God. I am continually haunted by questions like, Am I really saved? Does God really love me? Does he exist? Did Jesus really die for me? Or did somebody make this up? I kept hoping that the next Bible study or the next Sunday sermon would set me free from my doubts. Because this hasn't happened, I haven't been motivated to attend church in a long time.

    I answer this one at www.seriousfaith.com here:
    http://www.seriousfaith.com/asr/question.asp?questionid=3383

    C.J. asked:
    If I understand correctly, Michelle adopted Abby and started the process for Landis as a single mom. What lead her to do this and does the Bible say anything about it?

    The Bible has nothing specific about single parents adopting or single women adopting if that is what you mean. We believe, and the principle is clearly supported in Scripture, that the BEST situation is for kids to have a mother AND father. The is the BEST and IDEAL situation. However, even a single parent Christian home is the better alternative to poverty and being an orphan.

    Michelle adopted out of a love for children and orphans. Even as a single Mom, she knew she could provide a better home, and a better future than what they would have in an orphanage in a third world country. It was a major sacrifice on her part.

    God brought us together, and I have the same love and passion for kids and adoption she does. There was never any question about it.

    Of course, one could also postulate that God KNEW He was going to bring Michelle and I together, so the "single mom adopting" was not a real concern. At any rate, all the choices were made from a singular motivation to take care of kids, and give them a home.

    redribbondiaries.blogspot.com asked:
    Hello! First off, I am so glad I found your blog. I have found so much inspiration from reading your posts and following your journey. Now, for my questions. I have two! As of right now, you have 1,070 followers! Thats an AMAZING number. How long have you been blogging and what tools do you think have been most useful in growing your readership?

    I personally have been writing and blogging on OTHER blogs for many years. Our family blog has been up a year and a half or so.

    The most effective way to get new readers and keep them? That's easy. You have to have consistent, interesting, fresh content. Writing, photos, features... whatever it is, it must be sincere, original and sufficient effort put in to it to honor the VALUE that comes with loyal readers. In other words, we feel so blessed to have great readers, that we would never put half-hearted junk on our blog for them to be disappointed by. We value their loyalty. We value their time. Therefore, we want to make each visit to our blog something they will say "I'm glad I invested this time here". Of course we cannot make every reader happy every time, but overall, you cannot sustain a large readership if you aren't doing something right.

    There really is no magic trick, 7 secrets, or "just buy our program" that will get you new readers, and more specifically, loyal readers. Blog readers have MILLIONS of choices. If you do not honor their time with something worth their time, they will disappear faster than a hamburger in front of Michael Moore.

    stacy asked:
    Will we know our loved ones in heaven? My Mom died when I was 4 and I'm wondering if I will see her.

    In short, yes.

    There are many myths and false assumptions about Heaven. The teaching on Heaven in modern Christianity is puzzlingly poor and rare. I would recommend two things...

    1 - my online presentation about Heaven at www.seriousheaven.com
    2 - Randy Alcorn's book on "Heaven"

    Jul 22, 2009

    Pray for Me, Pray for Others

    Pray for Me... Pray for Others

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

    Landis prays so sweetly for everyone in our entire family.

    Our Requests:

    From Michelle:

    Thank you so much for praying for Abby last night. Last night was one of those good news/bad news kind of day. Because chemo weakens the body's ability to fight infections, a fever over 101 means a trip to ER for blood cultures and an exam. If her white blood cells are high enough we get to go home, if not Abby would be admitted to the hospital. While we are getting used to the drill, Abby running a temperature of 103.7 got my heart racing.

    The good news - Abby has an upper respiratory infection. Her bone marrow is working overtime to make the white blood cells she needs to fight it. Abby's temperature was over 103 again this morning.

    I know this might not sound like good news to some people, but anytime a child with cancer can fight an infection, it is a very good day. Kids with cancer usually die from one of three things; cancer taking over their bodies, organ failure or infections that their bodies can't fight.

    Bad news - Abby's white blood cell count is 10 times higher than they want it to be. For those of you who are new to Abby's story, leukemia mimics white blood cells. To destroy the cancer that is in her bone marrow, they have to keep her body from producing too many white blood cells. For the next couple of years, her doctors will try to keep her ANC (calculation that includes different kinds of white blood cells) below 1200. For the last two weeks it has been over 4000, so they increase the dose of one of her chemos on Monday. Last night Abby's ANC was over 12,000. The rapid increase is a responses to the infection and steroids.

    The concern is that while Abby's bone marrow is churning out masses of white blood cells, it will reproduce the cancer cells that are still present in her body. Since Abby's cancer is in her blood, and the blood travels everywhere in her body, her doctors believe that there are still cancer cells present, just hiding and waiting for an opportunity to multiply. This is the reason that children with leukemia are treated with chemo for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years.

    The reality is, God can cure Abby without any "help" from me or modern medicine. Please pray that Abby's infection is gone quickly and that the cancer is destroyed, without doing and permanent harm to her body.

    Pray for these folks:

    Please pray for our dear neighbors, Dorothy and Johnny. He was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer this week. They depend on us a lot, which we are blessed for, so we ask for prayers for strength and wisdom as we seek to minister to them.

    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.

    Jul 21, 2009

    Elderly Neighbor & Abby Update: Urgent


    Mr. Johnny and Ms. Dorothy with great grandaughter.
    They live next door and we are practically family.

    One of my "lawn mowing" ministry neighbors was diagnosed as terminal today with lung and probably bladder cancer. His name is Johnny (84 yrs old). He's the one I wrote "Mr. Johnny Comes a-Knockin'" about. Read it here...

    I already mow their grass with the "mowing for widows" ministry mower. Sadly, his wife Dorothy, will probably be a true widow before long. He has been in the early stages of Alzheimers for a couple of years, so she has had it pretty hard taking care of him 24/7.

    Abby Update: Urgent

    Abby has a temperature of 103.7 which is very concerning for someone on chemo. For our new blog friends, Abby is our 4 year old. She was diagnosed with Leukemia about a year ago and has had a tremendous amount of complications. She is on the way to the hospital with my wife as I type this. I'm here at home with the other kids.

    Thanks you for your prayers and kindness.


    Abby at Easter. Her hair is about twice as thick and long now.
    You can even clip a bow in it finally.

    True or Not True: The Elvis Story Is...

    The Elvis story is... ALL TRUE! Except for maybe the "NOBODY knew it was me part". I think a few people probably recognized me, but for the most part the majority didn't.

    Many of you guessed it was true which I can't decide what that says about me! Anyway, not much more to add since it was true. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

    Oh, to be young... I doubt I would ever work up the nerve to do something like that again. Here's some embarrassing photos as proof:


    Flashin' the Elvis moves, getting smiles from the fans.


    Nice wig, huh?


    Workin' the crowd, charming the ladies.


    A stirring (stomach stirring) rendition of Love Me Tender.


    My friend Greg and his wife Janice.

    Jul 20, 2009

    Blog Hop July 20th Favorite Recipes


    Note from Brent:
    For those interested, I started a new series over on SeriousFaith.com today called "Having a Joy Filled Life in Troubled Times". Find it here...

    Welcome Blog Hoppers!

    Reminder: SEND ME YOUR RECIPES using this easy form, so that I can create a MckLinky Recipe Book, FREE for all the blog hoppers! Submit your recipe here: http://www.mcklinky.com/recipes.asp

    This week's theme is favorite recipes, so here's mine:

    Avocado Corn Salsa


    Ingredients:
    2 small to medium ripe avocados, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
    1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
    2 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
    2 to 3 tablespoons lime juice
    1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
    1/2 to 1 teaspoon minced hot green chile peppers
    1/2 teaspoon salt

    Directions:
    In a medium bowl, gently combine avocado, corn kernels, tomatoes, lime juice, cilantro, chile peppers, and salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to be served.

    MckLinky Blog Hop

    Open Season Answers from Brent

    Answers by Brent

    Amanda asked:
    Three years ago, a dear friend of mine and his mother were murdered by his father, who then killed himself. If he was a Christian before he committed these horrendous acts, will he be in heaven and how do I learn to forgive him. It still breaks my heart to think about it. THANKS. I Love your blog!!

    I answer this at www.seriousfaith.com here:
    http://www.seriousfaith.com/asr/question.asp?questionid=3379

    True or Not True: The Elvis Impersonator

    True or Not True is a feature where I tell a story about something that has happened to one of us... maybe. It might be true, or it might be a bunch of made up hogwash. It's up to you to decide.

    The Elvis Impersonator

    I've always enjoyed singing. For most of my life, I have been part of some sort of men's quartet, singing group or have performed in one way or another in non-professional settings.

    I'm not really what you would call an exceptional singer, pretty good but not exceptional. My strong point is that I am comfortable in front of a crowd whether it's speaking, teaching, training or singing. I'll never win any awards, get a recording contract or even be considered by anyone as a great singer but I have done it a lot throughout my life, and enjoy it.

    One of my favorite memories is a 50th wedding anniversary that I performed at. I was invited to sing some songs that were appropriate for the occasion and chose some tunes from artists like Vince Gill. They were typical love songs that spoke about longevity and living a life together. It was all going to be pretty standard stuff until I found out that the anniversary couple were big Elvis fans. That's all I needed to hear.

    I went out and rented one of those one-piece white Elvis jumpsuit costumes with a big gawdy belt, and an Elvis wig complete with sideburns and rhinestone studded sunglasses. Now keep in mind at the time I was in my late 20's so I wasn't skinny (like I was as a teenager) but neither was I overweight. I had just enough girth to look like the older Elvis, but not the fat-and-on-his-way-to-dying-while-sitting-on-a-toilet-Elvis.

    I did not tell the anniversary couple that I was going to do an Elvis gig (I knew them well enough to know that they would enjoy it). I didn't tell anyone else either. I was also going to do everything I could to keep the entire crowd from knowing it was me. At the time, I had worn a mustache for many years. So I showed up to the anniversary party in jeans, boots, sort of a Western looking shirt, a mustache, no glasses and my short brown hair... kind of "Tom Selleck does Gunsmoke" minus the good looks, rugged charm, sex appeal and talent. Okay, I had a mustache and so did he... you happy?

    There was only one other person, my friend Greg, who was in on the whole thing. After singing a few songs I called the anniversary couple up to the front and did one final love tune with them standing there next to me. I said my "thank you for having me and congratulations", and bid everyone a good night. At that point, I left the room and went down the hall to the bathroom where I had stashed my Elvis getup. I took out a razor and shaved off my mustache. I put on the wig, the jumpsuit, the belt, the big sunglasses and some shiny white shoes, grabbed a white scarf and waited for Greg to summon my big entrance.

    In the meantime, Greg had got up to announce there would be a special visitor who was coming to personally wish the couple a happy anniversary. At the close of his announcement, he walked over, dimmed the lights and pressed the play button on the sound system which fired up the traditional Elvis Space Odyssey 2001 introduction music. Then he bolted out the door and down the hall to give me my cue.

    I entered the room with Elvis flair. Because of the whole costume and shaving off the mustache, no one recognized me. After giving them my best flashy Elvis moves during a rendition of Burning Love, I transitioned into Love Me Tender. During that song I worked the women in the crowd, kissing hands, and wiping off sweat onto napkins or my scarf and throwing it to them. Much to my delight, everyone in the crowd really played the part of swooning over Elvis. I'm not sure to this day if it was because they were just playing along, or because I actually have a little Elvis somethin' somethin' myself...

    I finished the song on bended knee in front of the anniversary couple then right on cue the "Elvis is done with this concert" music fired up. I made the rounds doing the well-known Elvis big finish moves including the "down on one knee, arms extending the cape" farewell pose. Out the door I went, staying completely in character as I walked down the hallway and out of sight. I even stopped to kiss a pretty girl on the cheek in the hallway. I figured that would be possibly my one chance in life to get away that.

    Greg didn't miss a beat and of course finished up with a "ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building."

    A few minutes later, I quietly came back into the room with my regular clothes back on. Later on, everyone found out that it was me that had done Elvis but at that moment the closest thing I got to anyone's curiosity was a couple people asking me "hey you look different... you missed Elvis". I guess it was beyond anyone's imagination that a homely looking hick could pull off Elvis.

    And that's my tale of "Brent the Elvis Impersonator". What you think? True? Not true? Some of it true? Leave a comment and let us know and tomorrow we'll reveal the truth and who got the closest.

    Prayer Requests for Abby


    Tonight is one of those nights where I am up late thinking about Abby. In a few hours I will be taking Abby to the cancer clinic for more procedures and chemo. Abby knows she will be going, and is not looking forward to it. She only wanted to know if she was go to get a poke in her back (spinal tap). I wish I could have told her no, but unfortunately it that time again.

    Learning is harder for Abby now than it was before she was diagnosed with leukemia. She can do it, it just takes more work. Abby's problems with increased intracranial hypertension (too much fluid in her skull) and the chemo that bathes Abby's brain after they inject it into her spinal column, have made learning harder than it used to be.

    Last week things really started to click for Abby and she was able to remember some things that she had been working hard to memorize. Abby is so proud that she is learning big kid things and is having fun "playing school" with Sami and me. I really dread taking her in for the spinal and chemo. I know she absolutely needs it to fight the cancer, but I still wish she didn't have to have it.

    After her spinal (lumbar puncture), Abby will be getting a IV antibiotic. The scariest moments for me, in the last year, been when Abby had an allergic reaction to antibiotics and her airway swelled (anaphylactic shock). This has happened twice, with two different antibiotics. One time it happened the first time they gave her the medication, but the other time it happened after she had already had several doses of the antibiotic. I pray Abby is not allergic to this antibiotic, too.

    It would mean a lot to me if you would pray for Abby today. Would you pray that:

    1. Abby is not scared before the procedures start and that she is well sedated for the spinal.

    2. Abby's brain is protected from any damage that would make it hard for her to learn.

    3. Abby would not have any allergic reactions to medications.

    4. Abby's spinal fluid and blood would be free of any cancer cells.

    5. Wisdom for the doctors as they make decisions about the amount of chemo to give Abby. Last week Abby's white blood cell count was VERY high for someone on chemo (4000 ANC). They want it to be much lower to give Abby the best chance at remaining cancer free.

    Jul 19, 2009

    Open Season Answers from Brent

    Answers from Brent

    mya asked:
    Okay I REALLY need help with this, my friend from youth group (been a Christian All his life) Says he has feelings for another guy, he knows it's wrong but he says he can't help it, when he does have those thoughts he cuts himself...he really is a great guy.. and A good friend And I want to help him..but I don't even know what to say.. HELP!

    If you are his age, it's probably not your place to say anything.

    With problems this serious you most likely lack both the experience and the maturity to deal with such things. You need to find a godly, mature Christian or Christian couple who can help your friend. There simply to little detail in your question for me to give any specifics and even if there were, it would be very difficult to give advice of this nature on a blog because they're too many variables.

    Please find one of your Christian leaders or parents and tell them the situation.

    Kristi.Guillory asked:
    Id actually like to ask for your prayers. I am 25 years old and certainly don't have the means to accomplish it yet, but I've been having the strongest urge to start the journey to create my own- I don't want to call it a business, but just to start something on my own. I'd like to open an indoor park since it's been 100 degrees here every day, that way kids can still enjoy the pleasures of a park without baking in the heat. I need some guidance to make this happen. Prayers/advice appreciated!

    I always encourage people to take some risks and to get out there and try things in life. However, we also must be realistic so that we do not waste our time.

    If you have neither the money, resources or experience to start a business as high risk and speculative as a skate park or an indoor park, then you would be wise to put off such a project until a later time. The business world is a cruel and unfeeling taskmaster. No matter how sincere our motives or how strong our passion, a bad idea, or a bad plan (or no plan) or bad timing can SINK you.

    Find yourself some godly Christian businessmen and women and let them help shepherd you in your desire to create something.

    Berlinerin asked:
    Have you read books by Philip Yancey? If yes, what do you think of his writing?

    I haven't read any of his books in a long time but I have read several. He is a good writer (at least in his older books from what I can remember) but was not someone who caught my long-term attention. That may be just an oversight on part. I've not heard anything except positive about him.

    James 1:27 Family asked:
    Here's a random question... Every time I read Genesis 19 I get upset and get the heebie-jeebies! Why would Lot offer his two virgin daughters to the men of Sodom who were trying to rape the angels?!? I cant imagine a father doing this and I can't see what God has for me to learn. I pray each time this comes up for God to show me what I am not understanding, but I haven't had any clarity yet. Thanks for always standing firm for Jesus and for the great example you set in loving your family!

    I answer this over at www.seriousfaith.com here:
    http://www.seriousfaith.com/asr/question.asp?questionid=3378

    Leslie asked:
    As Christians, are we supposed to allow God to have full control over how many children we have? Is using birth control demonstrating a lack of faith in God and his promise that He won't give you more than you can handle?

    I haven't seen this question before so I'm not sure how it was missed. But anyhoo, since the Bible does not directly and specifically give us a command about birth control then it falls squarely in the lap of personal liberty much to the chagrin of those who bellow otherwise. '

    Each couple must pray and ask God to give them guidance and they should be fully convinced in their own mind of what God would have them to do. At that point, we don't push our convictions off on others but we also allow them to exercise their Christian liberty in the absence of plain and clear commandment in Scripture.

    - - - - - - - -

    Sunday Morning Ministry: July 19, 2009

    Sunday Morning Ministry

    Blessed Lord's Day morning to you!

    For those of you who may be at home with sick children or some other reason you are unable to meet with other local Believers, I've prepared a message for your encouragement and edification.
    • Be sure to sign the GUEST BOOK so we evaluate how useful this ministry tool is over time.

    • There is a blog badge below for the "Riggs Family Sunday Morning Ministry" if you want to post it on your blog so others can find out about it.


    Or click here to listen using the Yahoo media player...
    Independence Day - Part 3

    We continue the series on Sunday Morning Ministry about Christian Liberty. This morning I teach you several helpful questions to ask yourself when you are considering what Christian liberty God would allow for you. I hope you'll join me for the next few Sundays!

      Jul 18, 2009

      Open Season Answers from Brent

      Answers from Brent

      pkjammers55@yahoo.com asked:
      Hi Michelle and Brent, What part of Oklahoma do you live in? I am from Denison, Texas. I love you and your family. thanks, Laura
      We live south of Norman out in the middle of nowhere. I've been told several times that I need to live as far away from real people as possible. Not sure how to take that...

      Rachel asked: This is my first time asking a question! I hope mine makes the *cut!* What are your thoughts on egg donation? Do you think it is something God approves or disapproves of? Do you think it is a moral and/or ethical thing to do, both for the woman donating and the woman receiving?
      We believe that any time an honest and full effort is made to protect the life of a potential person, it is acceptable as long as no CLEAR and UNDENIABLE moral grounds are tread upon, or direct commandments of God ignored.

      As far as I know about egg donation, every effort is made to protect the eggs and none of them are squandered or casually discarded. If that is indeed the truth, then we would have no problems with the practice. It fall squarely into the realm of conscience and Christian liberty because, obviously, we have no specific references to it in Scripture.

      Sioux asked: Our children are 6, 3, and 2. Is there are particular family daily devotion or children's daily devotion that you are partial too? Or what do you do at your home to help teach these topics. Most of the Bible stories in our childrens bible still scare our kids, floods covering the whole world, people being thrown in fiery furnaces or to lions, talking serpents, brothers sending their brother away, giants, I'm sure you get my drift. Any suggestions would be great!

      We have a children's Bible story book that I read to the kids each night. To be honest, it's pretty pitifully written so I just follow with it as a guideline and I mostly ad lib the stories.

      As far as reading the stories you believe are scary, the Bible is the Bible. The stories are there to teach our kids about real-life and in particular, the scary stories often reveal the truth about sin.

      I would not shy away from sharing those stories as they can be told in an age-appropriate manner. There many things in this world that we should protect our children from but the stories in the Bible are not one of them. Again, it takes parental and spiritual discernment to tell those stories appropriate for their age.

      For example, we tell our three and four year olds, "Jesus died on the cross" but we don't say "he was horribly tortured and beaten, nails driven through him, skin ripped to shreds...". That is not appropriate for their age but the truth of the story is. It's a little scary to hear "Daniel got thrown in with the lions" but that's the whole point... it was scary.

      On another point, unless your children are VERY sheltered nowadays, they are going to see, hear and be told things that are much more violent, and certainly more damaging than any Bible story ever could be.

      Kate asked: What do you know or think about the Gothard ministry? My brother-in-laws family is a part of it (though he is not), as are the Duggars (who are gaining popularity), and I've found it difficult to find info about it online. What I have found is disturbing doctrinally, but it's kind of few and far between...

      I have not researched them and so really cannot speak with any certainty or authority on what they believe or teach. If anyone out there has well documented material about them, I would be grateful if you would send me a copy.

      Emma asked: As a longtime reader of your blog, I've noticed some changes. This *is* titled *the riggs family blog* however, it seems to me that lately, it has become the *ask and answer questions* blog. While I have no problem with this- and in fact look forward to these posts- i wish the posts would shift back to their original focus: wonderful family stories, great pictures and updates on Abby. Please don't misunderstand- I enjoy these q and a posts-- but they seem to have taken over this blog.

      I addressed this in a previous answer but in short, we just go through different phases. When my wife has less time or desire to write much of course I tend to write more. I also enjoy the question and answers quite a bit, and I figure as long as people are asking questions and there is a demand to hear the answers. We've got a lot of things going and we just do whatever it is we feel like God would have us do at whatever point in our life we are in.

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      Open Season Answers from Brent

      Answers from Brent

      rlshoemate@msn.com asked:
      One of our adopted children has hepatitis-B. We knew this before the adoption. In the past, my husband and I have given blood, but now we are no longer eligible because we live in the same house as someone with hep-b. The reasoning actually centers around sexual contact, which obviously we do not have, so would you answer truthfully on the blood donor application, or would you say *no* since you KNOW that you are healthy?

      I answer this question over at www.seriousfaith.com here:
      http://www.seriousfaith.com/asr/question.asp?questionid=3376

      Mamita asked:
      We teach a college age Bible Study. One of the girls asked this: If a girl leads a friend to Christ, and the new Christian wants to be baptized, could the girl be the one to baptize her friend? I think I know how I am going to answer her, but I would love to pick your brain for any Biblical insight you have. Thanks.

      I answer this question over at www.seriousfaith.com here:
      http://www.seriousfaith.com/asr/question.asp?questionid=3377

      Holly asked:
      I think you need some variety in your questions so I will throw two very serious ones your way. 1. Do you believe in Krispy Kreme? As in they are the best doughnuts EVER? Do you only order them hot off the line? And how often do you consume them..once a year...once a month...etc? Important stuff. 2.Any suggestions for coping with another deployment. I know I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength. Maybe I need a new hobby while Hubbys in Iraq? Ideas? :)

      My wife believes that Krispy Kreme donuts are the best ever. I think they're overrated but hey, that's just me being controversial. The Krispy Kreme crowd is one of the few I have "offended", so I better get them into the club. I've had Krispy Kreme doughnuts maybe four or five times in my life.

      As for coping with another military deployment you already have the right answer. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Lean on him for understanding, for hope and wisdom. Put your life and the life of those deployed into the loving hands of an all seeing and all-knowing God and rest in the security that no matter what happens in this life, we have all eternity to make up for it.

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      Jul 17, 2009

      New Theme & Open Season Answers From Brent

      Since it's been over ONE HUNDRED degrees for a couple of weeks, I decide it was time to go with a SUMMER theme... do you like it?

      Answers from Brent


      Anonymous asked:

      How can I make the pictures larger in my posts? I followed some recent instructions that Brittany (4 Little Men and Girly Twins) posted, but it doesn't seem to work for me? Help!!
      Brit is a friend of mine. She writes for SeriousLife Magazine in case you didn't know.

      The simplest way I know how to explain it is that you must not use Bloggers picture upload function. Blogger automatically resizes to three standard sizes and you have no control over it. You need a photo service like FlickR or Picasa Web Album (or your own web hosting) to store your pictures on, and then you simply write simple HTML code to pull the picture onto your post.

      As a matter of fact, right after the period in the last sentence, I decided to go do a demo for you here...

      D.R. asked:
      My friend used to know how to make jawbreaker sugar candies at home... I wonder if anyone still knows that? :) I'll be praying for Abby. Thanks.
      I made some cookies ones that were jawbreakers but never any of the round balls that you're talking about. Anyone out there know how to make them?

      Jennifer asked: How does your family celebrate the 4th of July?
      This year we celebrated it in the hospital. Most years we get together with family and friends. Nothing too elaborate or sensational, just a good day with the family.

      Of course there's always the lecture from dad (me) about patriotism and our growing loss of freedoms. The kids may not understand at all but it won't be because I haven't tried.

      Carolyn asked: Hey, my grandmother was a Riggs. You have any relatives in Middle TN?
      Not that I know of. Want to hear something funny? My wife's maiden name is Riggs as well. Before we were married, we went to a family reunion on her side and I told her "if I see anyone I know, I'm out of here!"

      ~ Brent

      Open Season Friday July 15, 2009

      The new Picture Caption MckLinky is now available for FREE to everyone. Now you can easily have your blog readers leave photo caption suggestions, then you can choose winners and favorites. Check it out at www.MckLinky.com
      - - - - - - - -

      We only had three questions last week, but I'm hoping that was just because we hadn't even answered the previous Friday yet. I was busy with some little website I've been goofing around with called MckLinky. But, maybe we've run out of good answers!

      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...
      • business
      • ask for advice
      • WHATEVER.... hey, it's OPEN SEASON!!


      Jul 16, 2009

      You Can Make It Happen

      I'm one final test away from launching the MckLinky Photo Caption Tool. Could you leave a suggested caption for this pic to help me do the final test?

      Or you could just leave one because its a fun pic!

      What's your caption suggestion?
      Can you guess where this is and why this picture is special?

      Jul 15, 2009

      Pray for Me, Pray for Others

      Abby Update

      Abby's appointment went well yesterday. She is tolerating the chemo better and her white blood cell count is actually a lot higher than they want them to be (ANC over 4000). Because Abby's cancer mimics white blood cells, they need to keep the number of white blood cells very low, in order to destroy her cancer. If this number is still high next week, they will increase her chemo again.

      With Abby's white blood cells so high, she will have a lot more freedom this week. The girls are excitedly planning our week. Next week we will return to the clinic for a spinal tap and more chemo. Thank you so much for praying for Abby's healing.

      Pray for Me... Pray for Others

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

      Landis prays so sweetly for everyone in our entire family.

      Our Requests:

      continue to pray for Abby's cancer to be destroyed, for protection from common, permanent side effects (i.e. AVN (bone death) decreased cognition,). Learning is already much harder for Abby than it was before she was diagnosed with leukemia. Bathing young developing brains in toxic chemo can have permanent, heartbreaking results. For now, Abby can learn with a lot of effort. Please continue to pray for complete healing.

      Pray for these folks:

      Continue to pray for Anika, the 8 year old girl, who has been battling leukemia. Her doctors say she is at the end of her journey. Her lungs are filling with a fungus, that is damaging her lungs and making it hard to breathe. Anika is in a lot of pain, and the pain medications are making her very sleepy. Would you pray that her pain would be relieved, that she would be alert and able to spend time with her family and for healing. Please also pray for Anika's precious family. http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/anikawilke

      A friend's daughter, who was adopted from Guatemala, has finished her treatment for leukemia. Her cancer is gone, but she is now struggling in school. She had an exceptionally high IQ before chemo, and is now struggling to learn. http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/marielle Marielle is just one of many cancer kids who survived cancer, but now have permanent "battle scars". Their parents are all very grateful that their children are alive, but like all parents, wish that their children were completely healthy, pain free, and able to live life normally. Please pray for these children and their families. Pray also that better treatments would be found, treatments that cure cancer, without damaging young minds and bodies.

      Thank you for praying for Ethiopian abandonment adoptions last week. There seems to be real progress in these adoptions. Please continue to pray that these children who have been waiting in orphanages for a long time, to be in their new homes soon.

      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.