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Apr 30, 2010

Open Season Friday Answers... and Your New Questions

From Brent

Here are the answers to last week's Open Season questions. Enter your new question in the linky list at the bottom of this blog post:

Is Abby’s Wish about adoption? Are you adopting again?

• Yes it's about adoption. Yes, we want to adopt at least once more. All three kids (Hannah, Landis and Abby) have always wanted another baby brother or sister and after everything Abby has endured we began to refer to it as “Abby’s Wish”. Then our friend, Amy Block, decided to start raising money for Abby’s Wish and it kind of became an official campaign at that point. We don’t get on our blog and ask money for ourselves contrary to a lot of misinformation out there by people we don’t even know saying we are getting rich off of our blog. What joke... Abby’s Wish is the closest we’ve gotten to asking for donations and if you read our blog much, you know we rarely even mention it much less be aggressive about it. If it was not to rescue another orphan from poverty, we wouldn’t even consider having an official donation campaign.

What books or writing projects do you have planned? I know you haven't been writing as much while building Linky Tools...

• My book about Kenny McClinton is currently being prepared for national publication and distribution. I’m writing the first volume of a planned series called “The Mind of Brent” that will be a compilation of writing that I think will make a good book.

• I’m compiling a book solely composed of my mentoring and spiritual advice I put out on Twitter. So that’s 140 character entries with spiritual and life advice.

• The magazine (www.seriouslifemagazine.com) continues to grow and a new issue will come out next week. I have some great stories lined up for the next few issues.

• I have a few novels planned that will teach Christian doctrines or lessons about life by telling them in story form. I’m really excited about doing those. And I’m wanting to write a novel with my daughter Jordan who actually has more creativity and imagination than I do. She is artistic and loves to write, so it’s exciting to me to see her interested in the things I love so much. I’ve got a long, long list of things I want to write and my prayer some day is to be able to write full time and really churn out the projects.

I see you have some books and other blogs. Can you give a list of your other things and what they are?

• Quickly… brentriggs.com is my professional site that has my services and portfolio. It’s kind a portal for all my stuff and I’m about to redesign the whole thing.

• SeriousFaith.com is strictly my Bible teaching and Bible answers.

• BrentRiggsBlog.com is where I write about life, family, marriage, answer questions, personal finance, etc
• LinkyTools.com is a free suite of blog linky list tools and contents

• LinkyToolsBlog.com is where I teach and write about how to blog.

• And RiggsFamilyBlog is obviously our family blog.

As a Christian how do you deal with knowing God can heal, but knowing that He chooses not to very quite often?

• This is a touchy question because of what is commonly taught today about healing and the many celebrity faith healers we have running around teaching MUCH that is false about the topic. I don’t want to turn this into a Bible lesson so let me just state my personal stances on a few things and leave it at that…

• Can God miraculously heal if he wants to? Of course. To believe otherwise would be to limit God say something the Bible simply doesn’t say. If God wanted to instantly heal Abby, or Chrissie, He need merely think the thought, and it would be done.

• If you listen to stations like TBN, and many of the popular faith teachers like Benny Hinn, you would think God is doing miraculous healing thousands of times a day to millions of people all across America, but reality clearly dispels this notion with little effort. The Bible does not support the idea of “faith healers” like Hinn and raw fact proves that most his “healing” is temporary, incomplete, psychosomatic, or pure entertainment and showmanship. But again, more important, the celebrity faith healers BUTCHER Scripture to support their teachings… as a whole, they are AWFUL Bible teachers using Scripture to support what they want to market rather than letting the Bible speak for itself.

• Because of this, a pervasive misuse of Scripture is very common. Take Isaiah 53:3 for example “by his stripes we are healed”… hardly a day goes by that some very well meaning and loving Christian brother or sister doesn’t repeat that verse to me making reference to Abby’s cancer. No matter what your belief is about miraculous healing, this verse IS NOT about physical healing and is a plain example of how false teaching is enforced by misuse of Bible passages. (read my message on this here)

• It is obvious from simple observation that God does not choose instant and miraculous healing very often (if compared to how much sickness, disease and injury there is). It’s a plainly observable fact. Why? That’s God’s business. He could snap his fingers and the whole world would be instantly healed but obviously that is not his perfect plan. The Bible has much to say about the benefits of trials, suffering and turning to God when this sin-cursed world comes knocking on the door of our health. Here is a list of benefits we get from enduring sickness and suffering… a list straight from Scripture:

1. To produce the fruit of patience Rom. 5:3; James 1:3-4; Heb. 10:36
Through adversity Christians learn the blessing of long-suffering and delayed gratification.

2. To produce the fruit of joy Ps. 30:5; 126:5-6
It is easy to be joyful when times are good but you have authentic rejoicing when you experience it through suffering.

3. To produce the fruit of maturity Eccles. 7:3; 1 Pet. 5:10
Through affliction we discover the true reality of living in a sin cursed world. When we endure suffering with the attitude of Jesus Christ we are perfected, established and strengthened.

4. To produce the fruit of righteousness Heb. 12:11
Adversity, when responded to according to God's word, will train us to be righteous and holy.

5. To silence the devil Job 1:9, 10, 20-22
God permits suffering and when we respond to it in a Christlike manner the accusations of Satan against us will be in vain.

6. To teach us Ps. 119:67, 71
The more we suffer the more God's word becomes real to us and the less we will stray from obeying the Lord. It then becomes a good thing that we have suffered because it has resulted in increased Godliness.

7. To purify our lives Job 23:10; Ps. 66:10-12; Isa. 1:25; 48:10; Prov. 17:3; 1 Pet. 1:7
God tests, strengthens and purifies us through affliction. Our faith is much more precious than anything the world can offer and like pure gold it is refined in the fires of suffering.

8. To make us like Christ Heb. 12:9, 10; 1 Pet. 4:12-13; Phil. 3:10; 2 Cor. 4:7-10
As we suffer, we come to understand and better relate to the suffering that Jesus endured on our behalf. Through persecution and affliction we are conformed into the image of Christ manifesting through our bodies a living example of Christ's sacrifice for us.

9. To glorify God Ps. 50:15; John 9:1-3; 11:1-4; 21:18-19; Phil. 1:19-20
Every time we respond to suffering with a Godly attitude, we bring glory to God in such an unselfish manner that it directs attention solely to God, and not to us.

10. To prevent us from sinning 2 Cor. 12:7, 9-10
God may permit us to suffer in order to keep us humble and to keep us from the sin of self-exaltation.

11. To make us confess when we do sin Judg. 10:6-7, 15-16; Ps. 32:3-5; Hos. 5:15; 6:1; 2 Chron. 15:3-4
There will be times when God uses suffering to force us to confront our sin and confess it. Enduring the effects of a sin cursed world heightens our awareness of sin and deepens our understanding of just how truly awful sin really is.

12. To chasten us for our sin 1 Pet. 4:17
Suffering may often times be a direct result of our own personal sin and God may be chastising us for it. Adversity motivates us to carefully examine our lives for holiness and devotion.
13. To prove our sonship Heb. 12:5-6
Adversity is like an identification badge for the Christian. Scripture clearly says, "that whom the Lord loves He chastens". So any time that you suffer you can be sure of two things: that you belong to the Lord, and that He loves you.

14. To reveal ourselves to ourselves Job 42:6; Luke 15:18
When the pressure is on you can be sure that what is deep down inside of a person will come boiling to the top. When you squeeze a lemon, you get lemon juice. There is no way to fake what you are truly all about when you are under great stress or enduring significant adversity. You can be sure that what you are genuinely made of will surface not only for you to see but also for everyone around you to see.

15. To help our prayer life Isa. 26:16
There is no doubt that affliction helps our prayer life. For most people greater suffering equals greater prayer.

16. To become an example to others 2 Cor. 6:4-5; 1 Thess. 1:6-7
When we respond to adversity in a Godly manner it provides a living example for all those who observe us.

17. To qualify us as counselors Rom. 12:15; Gal. 6:2; 2 Cor. 1:3-5
There is nothing like real-life experience to qualify you as a teacher. It is an academic exercise at best to proclaim truths that you have not lived and experienced.

18. To further the gospel witness Acts 8:1-5; 16:25-34; Phil. 1:12-13; 2 Tim. 4:6-8, 16-17
By enduring suffering with a Godly attitude we participate in validating the power of the Gospel. When another person sees you rejoicing in the midst of affliction they can't help but wonder where you derive the power for such a response.

19. To make us more than conquerors 2 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 8:35, 37
As God proves faithful to see us through adversity we become more and more confident about the things of God. We become increasingly victorious over sin and "more than conquerors".

20. To give us insight into God's nature Job 42:5; Rom. 8:14-15, 18
Through suffering we know more about God and His purposes. We better understand His attributes, His nature and His sovereignty.

21. To drive us closer to God 1 Pet. 4:14; 2 Cor. 12:10
Whether we have actively strayed from God or are just in the sanctifying process of growing closer to him, suffering is an important means to push us and turn us towards God.

22. To prepare us for a greater ministry 1 Kings 17-18; John 12:24
Like the potter's clay that is worked and reworked, or the lump of dough that is kneaded until soft and blended, affliction breaks us down, makes us soft and prepares us to be used by the Lord.

23. To provide for us a reward Matt. 5:10-12; 19:27-29; Rom. 8:16-17; 2 Cor. 4:17
It is a wondrous truth that God permits us to suffer for His glory and yet it turns out to be an incredible blessing for us, not only in this lifetime, but also through the eternal reward we will receive in Heaven.

24. To prepare us for the kingdom 2 Thess. 1:5; 2 Tim. 2:12
Suffering prepares us for our eternal life with God. It conditions us, trains us and equips us to reign with Christ forever and ever.

25. To show God's sovereignty Rom. 8:28; 1 Cor. 10:13; Ps. 66:10-12; Gen. 45:5-8; 50:20
The suffering Christian is a tangible demonstration of God's sovereignty, who in His infinite wisdom can take all things (good and bad) and work them together for His ultimate glory and eternal purpose.

We hear alot about Abby for obvious reasons; can you give us an update on the other kids?

• Dane is about to graduate college and is going to Italy for the summer to study
• Jordan is living in Florida and is getting interested in graphic design and writing
• Christian is about to graduate high school.
• Garrett is about to get his eagle scout badge and will be a Senior
• Hannah is home schooling and playing soccer/basketball
• Landis is playing soccer and growing like a weed.

You seem to be VERY opinionated about religion. Why are you so blunt and black and white about religion?

• Well, let’s do the short version: if you REALLY believe something to be the truth, why would NOT be steadfast and very direct about it? If I truly believe that God is the Creator, that He wrote the Bible, that Jesus was His Son, and that the plain Truths in the Bible about heaven, hell and salvation are actually true… why would I be wishy-washy or even “inclusive” of other beliefs? To incorporate all beliefs is to have no belief.

• The idea of “tolerance” has been shoveled on us by people who don’t believe in truth and think there is no source of truth. Being “intolerant” of other beliefs doesn’t mean you hate the person or wish them ill; it simply means you reject their beliefs as Truth.

• The Truth presented in the Bible is intolerant by default. It says there is ONE God, ONE way to be saved, and ONE Truth FOUND in the only the Bible. So if you believe that, you need to be bold about it, and with love and gentleness “intolerant” (non-accepting) of other beliefs that are contrary to the Bible.

• This is not hateful or close minded. It’s being committed. It’s having a backbone in a world where no one is allowed to say anymore that God is the source of absolute truth.

• Also, I’m only black and white where the Bible, my source of Truth, is black and white. The Bible is black and white about the essentials of salvation and many of the moral directives about life: murder, theft, adultery… “ten commandment” stuff. Where the Bible gives LIBERTY and does not make declarative or definitive commands, we must allow people the liberty of differing opinion and the freedom to follow their conscience before God. To go beyond that is to become what is called legalistic: binding Scripture on others where the Bible does not bind it. Examples might be the issue of homeschooling, music, dress, Bible versions, different expressions of worship, etc.

• We would all be much better off being more steadfast and committed to our beliefs than this current trend that states there is no truth, and to declare otherwise is to be judgmental, hateful, bigoted, close minded…

• Truth by its very nature is intolerant. Truth is true, all other is false by definition. The question is whether or not we believe Truth can be known… I believe it can.

I see this Linky Tools thing; what is it?

• It is a set of blog tools that allows your readers to leave links to their blog on your blog. It’s great.... check it out here: www.linkytools.com

How is Abby doing? I'm on pins & needles waiting for an update.

We've posted several updates... check the recent posts.

You posted your kids sizes before so we could send them gently-used things. Please do it again! I had fun finding things.

I'll have to get Michelle to do that in a future post soon.

How do you add a share tab at the bottom of a blog post (for Facebook and such)?

Facebook has it's own tools you need to look in the help for or ask other Facebook users. You can use tools like "shareit.com" to get widgets for the same use on your blog. Does anyone know if Blogger has added a widget for social sharing?

Does Abby have either a Caringbridge or CarePages site, meant to be a journal of just her updates & prayer needs?

No. We update about her on our blog. A question for you guys: there is a lot a I don't like about "caring" sites that are out there. I created Linky Tools when I didn't see a good offering for linky lists. Do you think there is much interest for a new, easier to use, less commercial site for "caring pages"?

How do you handle a loved one that consistently "tears" you down no matter what?

• Well that’s a tough one. It’s sad that the people we should love the most and are around the most are often the source of our greatest pain. Sometimes that can be a spouse, a parent or a sibling. It’s never easy.

• First, they need to know you feel this way. That doesn’t mean they will change but often people feel hurt or mistreated and the other person has no clue you even have that opinion. So with a true motive of wanting to heal the situation, not punish them, let them know how you feel

• Most likely, they may have some legitimate issues or complaints to respond back to you with. So be prepared to have an open mind that there could be some things you need to work on to

• If they are open and want to work on the relationship, it’s hard for me to give you specific advice because I don’t know the situation. I would suggest you find a spiritually mature couple or individual to help you talk through things and give you advice.

• If the other person is not interested changing or admitting anything is wrong, then sadly it becomes an exercise in forgiveness and patience on your part.

• Remember, God tells us to bless those who curse us, pray for our enemies and forgive those who wrong us. He never said it would be easy or fun, but God does promise to bless us if we are faithful to obey Him in this way.

When Abby is In-patient does Michelle get her meals off the cart like Abby would or does she have to go to the cafeteria?

Mostly they bring her the parent tray which can be a real adventure. Occasionally she gets to go down and pick something out.

What sort of things does Abby enjoy? What size does she wear? How about the other children's interests?

I'll let Michelle put this in a future post with the answer about clothes above.

Do you plan to have Tuesday themed blog hops again?

• Yes, I started them back up again after being off for a week or two getting Linky Tools up and running. If you have any suggestions for themes, be sure to let me know. brent@brentriggs.com

I, too, would like to know how Abby is doing. Where could we send a care package to her at?

We are so thankful for the kindness people have shown Abby. If you would like to send her something, contact me directly. We get a lot of less than honest people contacting us, so we have to be careful who we respond to. Email me: brent@brentriggs.com

How do you add the subscribe button to your blog so people can be notified by email when you update?

Look at services like Feedburner.com or for more features, www.aweber.com

After a question is asked, and you decide it is one that you will answer, when & where do you post or send the answer?

• Now that the radio show is going, I’ll answer some of them there, and I’ll post all the answers regardless on our blogs.

Enter your new questions here.
Anything you want... family, online business, faith, advice, professional... it's OPEN SEASON!

Friday Night on The Mind of Brent...

From Brent

It's Open Season Friday on the radio show. I'll answer the questions you've submitted and take calls.

www.themindofbrent.com

10pm Central Time

Neurology Appointment Prayer Request

From Michelle:

Abby's intracranial pressure was decent the last time it was checked but she is still having headaches, not the bone-crushing, migraine variety but painful none the less. Abby is also having memory issues that can caused from the chemo they inject into her spinal fluid but they could by other neurological problems or be a side effect of the other medications she is taking.

There are never easy answers when it comes to Abby's health. Please join me in praying for wisdom for the neurologist we are seeing today and that Abby and I will be able to clearly communicate our concerns.

Apr 29, 2010

Tonight's Show... Lots of Rookie Mistakes...

From Brent

You just gotta laugh sometimes. I'm still learning how to work all the details of doing a radio show...

I tried to do a prerecorded show and uploaded it wrong. Then I set it up wrong and it didn't start on time.

Then... I got the prerecorded show scheduled right, and the uploaded sound file started, then stopped after a minute. By the time I figured it out, the show started 5 minutes late.

Then... and here's the real embarrassment, I had my host microphone on while the recording was going and was talking to my wife about the problems happening and THAT was going out over the audio too.

Thankfully, my brother Kelly was listening and he has a radio background. He called me and said "hey knucklehead... your microphone is on!"

The good news is (I think)... I probably ran off all the listeners who gave up by that time! Thank the Lord for His unexpected blessings! No listeners, I don't have to feel so stupid.

Except that I just told everyone what I did. Oh well... you just gotta laugh at yourself sometimes.

Tonight... on The Mind of Brent

From Brent

Life is tough... that's a fact. On the radio show tonight, find out about some powerful promises that are available to anyone to deal with discouragement, hopelessness, fear, loneliness, betrayal and discontentment.

Promises for Happiness, Joy and Courage When Life Gets Tough

Listen at 10pm CST at www.themindofbrent.com

Apr 28, 2010

Like I Said....

Avoid this Julianna Wiseman... below is her response to my email when I told her 1) I was aware of her history, and 2) to cease contacting us or commenting on our blogs.

In a nutshell, this tells you what kind of person she is. Lie to people about giving them money for something they are emotional about then threaten to sue them when they tell you go away and you warn others. It also shows the typical public misunderstanding and misuse of the terms like libel and slander. My attorney got a real kick out of this.
Oh Awesome, another Person to Sue the Pants off of for Slander and Defamation of Character!!!!!

Wait until I tell Tracy and Tim about this Suit!!!

Julianna
I've since had several friends and bloggers respond saying she's either tried the same tricks on them, or they already knew about her.

Be aware... people like this don't have victims if people are alerted to them.

Brent

Apr 27, 2010

Another Scammer... Abby Update and Pray for Me Pray for Others

From Brent

I feel I should alert you… we got scammed by a woman in California, and know now that she has a history of using blogs and links to move on to new people… in this case, possibly some of you.

She hops around blog links, and get names (blog names, email names, personal names) then contacts them and says “oh, I follow Abby’s story over at the Riggs blog and they mentioned you and now I just love your blog. I want to donate some money to your [charity, organization, adoption, etc]”… or something like that.

Her name is Julianna Wiseman, sometimes “InternationalMom”, or email address: peaches95827@yahoo.com

She contacted us and said she was going to give us $15K for our adoption. After one of our friends recently had received a legitimate $20K gift, we just didn’t have that “too good to be true” reaction you might expect. We’ve received a generous gift for our other adoptions, so we weren’t suspicious about the amount. I failed to research her name before responding. We gave her our BOX ADDRESS (at the post office; not our physical address) to mail the check.

Then, today, just on a gut feeling, I started Googling her, and found out she has a long history of lies, fraud and internet stalking. I haven’t read anything other than it’s just via Internet, and basically electronic stalking/harassment (no violence, criminal acts or theft). Basically just screwing around with people and their emotions and good intentions.

Don’t want you to be fooled by her. I doubt she’ll contact anyone we know after the rather blunt and legally threatening letter I sent her but, I felt I should give everyone routinely connected to us a heads up just in case. I’d feel horrible if she contacted you and I failed to warn you.

We thought we had just gotten half our adoption funds in one gift, so on top of the huge disappointment this represents for us, we get to feel totally stupid for being so gullible. I SHOULD have know better and of course, my immediate respond from now on will be to investigate before responding. I’m pretty experienced and savvy about public life on the Internet, and I absolutely should have known better.

Just FYI… if you see her name in an email, or see comments from her, just delete them and ignore them totally. That way you don’t have to feel stupid like I do right now…

From Michelle:

The walls are closing in on us, with no real end in site. Abby's white blood cell count is still dangerously low. In fact, it is worse now than it was last week (ANC is now 200). School is almost over and Abby is stuck at home because and germ would be dangerous now. I really hope she can go back soon.

We all really thought Abby's bloodwork would look great this week. We had no idea her immune system was this low when she was meeting Garth, Trisha and Troy. I am actually thankful we didn't know. Abby had a ball and God protected her.

Abby had a great time meeting "Mr. Garf, Miss Trisha" and her NEWEST boyfriend "Troy" (I guess she knew better than to hit on Garf since his wife was hanging around!). If anyone knows Troy, you might want to inform him.

Her chemo is being held for another week. From a cancer stand point, this is bad because breaks from chemo can let the cancer gain momentum. I just keep reminding myself that God doesn't need chemo to heal Abby.

The collateral damage from the chemo is easier to spot now. Abby is shaky, tired and having a lot of trouble keeping up with her peers. Our prayer is that the damage will not be permanent and that she will have the strength to fight her cancer, learn AND to have some fun.

Abby fell from the top of the monkey-bars at the park today because her legs were weak and trembling. Tears poured down her face but before we left she was up on the top of the monkey-bars again. She is determined to be a kid. It scares me to death to watch her but I cheer her on anyway.

Pray for Others:

A friend, Vanessa, is in the process of providing the people of San Antonio Palopo, Guatemala their very first library. Educational opportunities are scarce there but the desire to learn is great. Please pray for this special lady as she gathers resources and prepares to minister to them. I can't wait for the day when Abby and I can travel with her. Please stop by her blog and let her know you are praying too.

Please continue to pray for Chrissie. Her story is amazing but far from over. Please pray that her newly repaired heart would heal and that her lungs would function properly. Please also pray for her parents who are by her side watching her fight to live.

Her Mom Lorraine will be on Brent's radio show again tonight, 10pm CST... www.themindofbrent.com

Pray for Me Pray for Others


It has been a while since I have posted a Pray for Me Pray for Others. I miss hearing about how I can pray for you. I would love for you to list your prayer requests and requests for others you know who need our prayers.

The Mind of Brent - Tonight: More with Lorraine Patterson

We continue tonight ont he show (The Mind of Brent), talking with Lorraine Patterson about her daughter Chrissie. Chrissie, 3, had open heart surgery this week and died not once but twice only to see God work wonders through the physicians who brought her back to life.

Yesterday, dubbed "Miracle Monday", has seem some astonishing progress with Chrissie, gifts from God's own hand to this wonderful family and their brave little daughter.

Join us at 10pm CST, tonight (Monday), if you want to hear the show live and call in to talk with the Lorraine. All the shows are recorded and you can listen any time if you can't make it tonight.

The Mind of Brent - Weekdays, 10pm Central.


Listen online live to the audio, or chat with the guest and hosts:
www.themindofbrent.com

Call in: (347) 677-1517

Urgent -Pray for Chrissie

From Michelle:



Doctors are trying to suction numerous clots out of Chrissie's heart. Chrissie needs another miracle. Please pray now!

Is This Funny?

From Brent

Where Laughter Lives... the name of our blog. Anyone who has visited us for very long knows that we have a pervasive sense of humor... from photos, to April Fool's joke (people are still mad at me from last year), to videos to funny stories.

We love to laugh, we love humor, we love the happiness of a funniness.

I've been sent the following joke several times. Is it funny?

Dear Lord, You have taken my favorite singer, Michael Jackson. And you have taken from me my favorite actress, Farrah Fawcet. You have also taken from me my favorite actor, Patrick Swayze. Lord, I just wanted to let you know that my favorite president is Obama. Amen

Depending on how well you know me as a Bible teacher, you might be surprised at my answer. I write about it on my personal blog: www.brentriggsblog.com

Apr 26, 2010

Monday Night Blog Hop

From Brent

The Linky Tools Blog Hop theme for this Monday is "PHOTOS THAT MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD". Let’s do a Thumbnail Linky Blog Hop. Post any photo that makes your readers feel good: kids, fun, beauty, inspiration…


Garth was incredibly friendly and genuinely interested.
He seemed in no hurry and was gracious with photos and autographs.
I've always heard he was a pretty nice guy, and I got to see it first hand.


Join the Blog Hop:

The Mind of Brent - Blog Talk Radio Show... Very Special Guests Tonight

On my blog talk radio show tonight (The Mind of Brent), we are going to have some very special guests I wanted to give you a heads up about.

Matt and Lorraine Patterson are going to call in to talk with us about their daughter Chrissie. Chrissie, 3, had open heart surgery this week and died not once but twice only to see God work wonders through the physicians who brought her back to life.

Today, dubbed "Miracle Monday", has seem some astonishing progress with Chrissie, gifts from God's own hand to this wonderful family and their brave little daughter.

Join us at 10pm CST, tonight (Monday), if you want to hear the show live and call in to talk with the Pattersons. All the shows are recorded and you can listen any time if you can't make it tonight.

The Mind of Brent - Weekdays, 10pm Central.


Listen online live to the audio, or chat with the guest and hosts:
www.themindofbrent.com

Call in: (347) 677-1517

Abby On the News With Garth and Troy

From Brent

Here is Abby on the local news with Garth and Troy...

Apr 25, 2010

Troy?

From Brent

We had someone respond who could give Garth and Trisha a thank you gift from Abby... we'd like to do the same for Troy Aikman...

Does anyone know how we could get a card, photos and gift to his family? Anyone know them? And would be willing to make sure a package gets to him?

Abby would be thrilled... he was very sweet to her...

Brent

Apr 24, 2010

Abby Hangs Out With Garth, Trisha and Troy

From Michelle:

This has been an emotional couple weeks for me. When Abby's blood counts crashed, in much the same way they did when she was first diagnosed with Leukemia, my fear was that her cancer was back and we would be saying good-bye soon. When they kept getting worse, all I could think about was the million plus times she has asked me when she was going to get her new baby brother. Adoptions take time and money. Time that I was scared Abby was out of. Do we want to adopt no matter what? Of course. But, welcoming a new baby who Abby didn't get the chance to meet would be bitter sweet.

So while doctors and nurses filed through her hospital room, we decided to step out in faith and begin our next adoption. They calls have been made and we are filling out reams of paperwork... loving every minute of it. We trust that when the money is due, God will provide.

Abby is out of the hospital BUT being watched closely by her team of doctors. She is producing a miniscule amount of white blood cells so obviously any infection in dangerous. Am I still nervous about Abby's health. Honestly, yes. I have watched 9 kids relapse in the last week and my heart breaks for them and their families. We love Abby with all our heart (just like they love their children) so we will keep fighting with all we have.

And while we are fighting the beast (cancer) we will remind ourselves to fight for the moments where she gets to be a "normal" kid.

From Brent

Wow... what a special day. Seems like some of Abby's wishes are already coming true. First, here's a quick update on "Abby's Wish":

About $10K of the $25K needed to adopt has generously contributed. Since this may be our last adoption, we are considering the possibility of a baby and a sibling as well if the opportunity presents itself. We have begun the early steps of yet another home study (apparently three prior adoptions still don't make you qualified).

Wishes Come True

Abby was given special permission today (she's still in quarantine) to attend a big surprise. Out of all the "hospital" kids in Oklahoma, ten were chosen to be at the dedication of a kid play area at OU Children's Medical Center ("The Zone").

Troy Aikman has been part of this effort for 10 years, and recently Garth Brooks has joined the cause. We got to spend a couple of hours with Troy, Garth and Trisha Yearwood. No hurry, no throngs of people.

They sat and talked with each child. Took all the photos we wanted. Signed anything we wanted. Asked us about Abby and our family. They were warm, authentic and attentive.

Troy was very friendly and attentive. He talked with Abby and told her about his daughters. He took Abby's photo and put it in his pocket. He said, "I'm going to take you picture home and show my girls tonight."

We talked with Garth about our adoptions and he asked questions about it. I was able to speak to Trisha later for a few minutes and she told me they have some friends who are really interested in adoption. Michelle and I both commented later about how friendly and caring Trisha was.

They all loved Abby. Abby gave them a photo of herself and her little "Praying for Abby" card. It was a real thrill for us to get to attend as a break in our quarantine monotony.

NOTE: Abby wants to send "Miss Trisha" some photos, a thank you card and a painting of hers. I know she and Garth Brooks (they are married) live here in Oklahoma. If anyone knows how we could mail something to them, please contact us privately and let us know. We'd like to send Troy a thank you card too, if anyone knows his address. brent@brentriggs.com

They just fell in love with Abby. We know the feeling.

They (the hospital photographers I assume) wouldn't let me bring my professional photo rig in but I did grit my teeth and get some photos with my little pocket digital.


Abby had to wear a mask everywhere except the actual event.


Troy Aikman and our Child Life friend Kristin
talked to this kids.


Troy told the story about 10 years of working with
kids in hospitals, setting up these "end zones" where they can play.


Garth was incredibly friendly and genuinely interested.
He seemed in no hurry and was gracious with photos and autographs.
I've always heard he was a pretty nice guy, and I got to see it first hand.





Before everyone else arrived, me and Abby got a picture with
Garth before shaving off our goatee's and taking off our cowboy hats.
We were worried people would think we were weird since we
looked so much like Garth.


Michelle and I were both very touched by how caring
and genuinely thoughtful Trisha was. She really seems like an
exceptionally caring person.


One last photo with Garth and Trisha. We'll definitely be
hanging this one on the wall at home.

Kids Will Be Kids

Garth Brooks is standing right over there and Abby is more interested in playing the Candy Land game here at the kids clinic. :)


- Posted from my iPhone... Brent

Guess Where We Are

We standing about three feet away from Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood and Troy Aikman. ~BR


- Posted from my iPhone... Brent

Pic From the Past

From Brent

I ran across this photo tonight and wanted to share it. This was the day we had to cut Abby's hair off (what remained of it). I had promised her that she could cut mine off the day she lost hers. So here we are with freshly clipped heads. Memories...

Apr 23, 2010

Join Me on a Talk Radio Show Test at 10pm CST tonight

"The Mind of Brent"

I'm firing up the blogtalk radio show next week, and tonight I'm just testing out the tools and controls trying to get the hang of them...

If you are online from 10-11pm tonight, you can call/skype/chat with me and help figure out how to work all this stuff. The show won't be about anything in particular tonight... I'm just using it as a test run but it will be fun to talk to some of you fine blog friends.

Should be an adventure. Check it out here:
Official show page: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/brentriggs
Chat and listen: http://www.themindofbrent.com

Open Season Friday

From Brent

We have a lot of new followers over that past few months. We haven't done Open Season Friday in a while, so I thought it would be fun to fire that up today.

Open Season Friday is...

Ask us anything you want. Questions about the Bible, faith, family, parenting, blogging, business, graphic design, photography, writing, even personal questions. Whatever... it's open season.

Leave your question on this Linky Tools Questions List:


We may not choose to answer every question, but don't hesitate to ask. We are pretty generous with advice, and pretty open about our life and family.

Apr 22, 2010

A Thought For Someone

From Brent

This was my thought as I sat quietly at my desk tonight. For whatever it may mean to someone out there, for whoever it may speak to:

The crucible of suffering is silently shared with kindred heart, knowing eyes and unspoken words by those who have walked in the valley of the shadow.

It’s something you never wish for... but the aching seed that takes root in the darkness of trial becomes a priceless and eternal harvest of blessing upon the dawn of a new and compassionate morn from Him who is Faithful and True.



An Oklahoma spring thunderstorm that was brewing outside our house...

Apr 20, 2010

Blessing And Curse

From Brent

Living in the world of pediatric cancer is both a blessing and a curse.

We have come to know and love so many families and children who are enduring the awfulness of chemo and relentless sickness. We have befriended kids on the 10th floor at OU Med Center, and many more through the miracle of the Internet and blogging. It is truly amazing how technology can bring you together with people you may have otherwise never known a thing about.

We’ve traveled to places to see people and kids we met through our blog. We routinely have people walk up to us and ask “is that Abby?” or “aren’t you guys the Riggs family?” And not just here locally. We’ve had that happen all over in places like Indiana, Florida and Texas. It’s inspiring how many lives can be touched by one little girl.

We’ve built friendships and connections with so many families both through adoption circles, and the “cancer club”. Like all things in life, similar struggles bring people together in a group of mutual understanding. The tiring dance of drugs. The hospitalizations. Endless doctor and clinic appointments. Hours of combing through medical bills and insurance papers. Throwing up. Hair loss. Surgeries. Brushes with death. It’s not the stuff of casual chit-chatting or light-hearted blogging about what the kids ate at McDonalds after the matinee on Saturday.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not putting down the normal, boring or trivial as somehow how less honorable than talking about port infections and blood toxins. I wouldn't wish this on anyone. We LONG for boring, we crave mundane and routine.

When normal is gone, you realize just how important uneventful really is… how’s the weather? What did your kids eat for breakfast? How long has your little girl been in school? Where’d you buy those cute shoes? How was his first soccer game? I’ll take those questions any day over “what’s his blood counts?”, “do they expect you to live?”, “when’s your next round of chemo?”, “how long have been in the hospital this time?”.

But… and there’s always a “but” isn’t there? It’s hard to imagine not having the bonds, friendships and lessons learned that have come through this cancer-fueled camaraderie. The friends, the blessings, the stories and lives of so many children we’ve come to love and adore… bald, skinny, sick, puking all over the place, it doesn’t matter. It’s hard to quantify all the families, children and courageous battles we’ve followed and admired both in person and through blogging.

It’s hard though. It’s hard because we’ve watched so many children die and with each one we’ve wondered when/if it will be our turn. Why them, not us? When? If?

We’ve watched kids die in writing and photos. Never knew them face to face, only on blogs, as many of you know Abby. Does it hurt any less? Do you feel like you know them less or love them less because their lives are communicated to you on a computer screen? I think not. I KNOW not. I bet you don’t feel that way about Abby either. Is she less real to you because she doesn’t live down the street or go to your church? Is she less special, less human, less tangible because you know her through a broadband connection?

Sometimes I want to quit finding out about new families and getting to know more kids with cancer. We get to know them, love them, then watch them die. From one viewpoint it would seem a sad and painful circle to willingly embrace. From another, it becomes a conduit to forge bonds of love and eternal memories that could find no fruition other than the fires of shared pain and unwished for suffering. What’s the choice? “Love us, but we don’t want to pay the price to love you…” God forbid.

Watching kids suffer and die. It’s a world of clashing emotion… the love of family and friends poured out like no other time. The tears and grief of distraught moms and dads who cannot bear the death of their child but have no choice but to bear. I remember watching a little girl on the 10th floor die and her parents literally howling in anguish and hopelessness. I was at once both melted in sorrow for them, and lifted high into God’s presence thanking Him that we will never have to be engulfed in such a veil of despair. We must not ever despair like those who have no hope.

Abby has been close to death at least four times. It never gets easier.

I started rambling on about this today because of Chrissie (see the last post). I’ll never forget seeing Chrissie for the first time and instantly falling in love with her wry smile and sparkling eyes. She didn’t know me from Adam but within 5 minutes she was talking to me, flirting and capturing my heart. Masked by her infectious smiles was a body full of broken parts that would have to face the surgeon’s knife or God’s miraculous touch, whichever God’s will dictated. She died yesterday for 20 minutes as the Lord used skilled physicians to bring her back. The Great Designer has allowed his creatures to design machines than can keep a child alive. Isn’t that amazing? If not, does anything amaze you anymore?

I’ve known kids who were suffering so much, that deep down I wanted to see them pass on to God’s embrace. There have been times when I’ve been close to feeling that for Abby. If you’ve ever watched a child cry from pain while sound asleep, you know what I’m talking about. I would have never even believed that until I witnessed it personally. I hope I never have to feel that way about Abby again. I know the feeling. I don’t want to know it any better.

Chrissie is in Texas, we are in Oklahoma. I only get to feel her through a blog and photos. Thank God for blogs, cameras and the miracle of technology that lets us bond with other families allowing us to share, support and pray for them. I don’t want Abby to die. I don’t want Chrissie to die.

I don’t really even know why I’m writing this except that I’m a writer, it’s what I do. I was thinking about Chrissie today. Writing about her keeps her real to me. Writing about all of this keeps life real for me.

Apr 19, 2010

Would You Visit and Pray?


From Brent

Abby has a dear friend, Mattie, who I'll be writing a story on in the next issue of SeriousLife Magazine. You may remember that I went to see Mattie at Give Kids the World a few weeks ago when they were there on a trip for her sister Chrissie.

Chrissie died today. Then was resuscitated, and is now barely clinging to this world and her family by machines.

The Patterson's rescue-adopted Chrissie knowing she had massive heart problems that would require dangerous surgery. This morning Chrissie was smiling and happy as adults sent her off to have her chest cut open.

They opened her up three times as the day progressed. Then she died. Then God brought her back using the caring hands of gifted physicians.

The Patterson's have loved Abby and even left us a sweet comment of encouragement TODAY while Chrissie was in surgery, thinking of our hardship even while dealing with one many times more critical. Please help us love the Patterson's back and give them some of the encouragement and prayer that you've showered on Abby.

Would you visit their blog and leave some encouragement for them? It would mean a lot to us. It would mean a lot to Abby. It would mean the world to the Patterson's who need the loving encouragement of caring and tender-hearted folks right now. allarepreciousinhissight.blogspot.com

50 Tiny Specks of Hope

From Michelle:

Thank you for praying for Abby and our family. We are longing for more normal family time and praying for a few absolutely boring days. :-)

Abby's doctors want her ANC (number that represents how her immune system is functioning) to be between 750 and 1200. Too low and infections can be deadly (it's been ZERO the past few days). Too high and her cancer can relapse (her cancer cells mimic white blood cells).

If Abby's blood cells are low for too long they worry that her bone marrow is unable to make healthy cells because it is filled with cancer.

It has been a tough few days for everyone who loves Abby. Thank you so loving her and praying for safety from infection and for her not to relapse.

We are not even close to out of the woods yet BUT her blood work contained a glimmer of hope and we will celebrate it. Her ANC is 50 today which means her blood is showing signs of coming back to life and rebuilding. We may even get to go home today but Abby will be severely quarantined for a few days.

We'll keep you posted.

Apr 18, 2010

Abby Update - Sunday Morning - Getting Worse

From Brent

Abby is worse today. Her overall blood work is worse than yesterday, and she is still at absolute zero immunity. The “R” word – relapse – continues to creep into the conversation. Relapse would be a devastating setback at this point.

On Monday, if her counts are not showing any improvement, they will most likely do a bone marrow aspiration to answer the relapse question… a question Michelle and I would rather know the answer to sooner rather than later.

Please pray with us that she has not relapsed. Relapse means we start over. Day one. As if she had never had chemo, except that she is weaker to begin with this time around. Apart from God's saving hand, Abby probably wouldn't survive another 2 years of this nightmare and that doesn't answer the question of whether or not we would want her to endure it again.

Apr 17, 2010

Abby Update - Saturday Morning - More Bad News

From Brent

Abby’s immunity is now absolute ZERO showing no current signs of recovery. She’ll be in the hospital a few days MINIMUM until when/if she shows some signs of her immunity system coming back to life. If no immunity progress is made in a few days, they will do a bone marrow aspiration to see if, God forbid, she has relapsed into new Leukemia.

She is showing signs of possibly having mucositis again which is those AWFUL painful internal sores on the soft tissues of her mouth, private areas and where she goes to the bathroom. Please pray with us she doesn’t have to endure that torture again. It about killed her last time.

Without wavering, we have faith in God’s care, and ultimately His plan and time for ALL our lives. That is why we face each new day and trial with hope and true joy.

A Few Memories Many Of You Have Shared With Us


This was Abby during a bout of mucositis.
Can you see why we would rather not do this again?



We've always tried to find ways to have fun
even when life really wasn't.



Like I said... fun.
Where laughter lives.



And not so fun...



Fun...



And not so fun...



Fun...



And not so fun...



Lots of memories and milestones like when I finally
figured out I needed reading glasses because I was getting old.



And Abby's sense of humor which the chemo never poisoned.



Abby before cancer...


Abby now... 6 months to go of this God-forsaken chemo and our
constant prayers (and yours) that she never relapses;
a risk the doctors say for her is not insignificant.


And finally, you've probably seen this... my favorite pic just because I love it so much:

A Couple of Feel Good Pics on a Feel Bad Day

From Brent

A couple of pics that brightened our day a little.


A beautiful lilac right outside our back door.
I love taking pics of flowers... yes, me... ex-Drill Sgt...
I love photographing flowers.


Lando-Commando goes airborne on Dodo's trampoline.

Dodo is "Dorothy", our next door neighbor, Mr. Johnny's wife for those of you who've been reading our blog for any length of time. They are one of the elderly couples that we use the"mowing for widows" lawn mower for. Dorothy is not technically a widow, but Johnny is in extremely poor health and Dodo has to do everything herself including caring for him. She is like a grandmother to our kids.

Apr 16, 2010

Bad News Update About Abby

From Brent

Well rats… we’re allotted a sentence of whining per month, so here it is:

Today is not the best of days (humanly speaking). Abby’s immunity is virtually zero; after a trip to post office to get the now predictable stack of medical bills and insurance letters, Abby’s fever went from normal to pushing 102 in less than an hour (and climbing still, fast). She was already quarantined; now it’s back to the hospital for immediate admission. Whine complete*.

Okay that was two or three sentences. Sorry. Give an inch, take a mile.

Michelle is on the way to the hospital. I’m holding down school, work, house and kids here. Same routine as the other 62 (literally) times. We covet your prayers that:

  • The antibiotics will work. Kids with Leukemia don’t die from “cancer”… they die from secondary infections. That’s why these episodes are so serious and intense.
  • Strength and health for the rest of the family so we can deal with this.
  • Wisdom and alertness to handle all the details of hospital, medical bills, insurance and the rest of “life”.
November… that’s when Abby is done. We can see daylight, but it’s like the last 6 miles of a marathon… we're wore out, but the finish line is in sight. God has seen us through every step so far, and there is zero doubt He’ll carry across the finish line.

Zero doubt. 100% joy.

*I honestly feel guilty about ANY whining... I know full well there are a lot of cancer families that are having a MUCH worse time than us, AND I know full well there are millions upon millions of people all over this planet living in misery. All I can say without guilt is: Lord come quickly.
From Michelle:

Just a quick update tonight and I will write more soon. Abby has had a few concerning nights. Her oxygen levels were lower than I would like and stayed there for hours. It wasn't to the point that we needed to take her to ER but we did need to watch her (O2 sats were 85-92). Very different from her norm.

Today, Abby and I spent a long day at her oncologist's office... chemo/IV antibiotics and an exam. It was a hard day but it is difficult to explain why. Maybe after some sleep it will be easier.

For now I would love for you to pray for protection for Abby. Her immune system is at the lowest it has been in over a year (ANC 50). We were told no school, crowds, raw food (salad/fruit)... basically we are quarantined until her white blood cell count recovers.

Abby was so excited about going to school again but that's not happening now. Please pray we can make our time home productive and fun

Apr 13, 2010

You Can't?

From Brent

See if the words "I can't..." or "Too hard..." should still be in your vocabulary after watching this BLIND from birth 19 year old in the video below.

It is truly amazing what God can gift someone to do despite ANY difficulty. What's "too hard" for you today? What "can't" you accomplish for God and family?

Apr 12, 2010

Weekend Pics - Soccer and Camping

From Brent

Here are some pics from our weekend with our first soccer game (for Abby and Landis) and our first family campout (which would have happened a couple of years ago except for Abby getting sick).


Soccer at this age is fun... like herd of puppies chasing a kitten.


Hannah gets instruction on her first time shooting a bow.


On the firing line... Hannah is excited about shooting a bow.


Looks good at this point... I won't show you the
photos of where the arrow ended up.


Abby got to be a "victim" for the stretcher build-n-carry races.


Ain't dem lil' cuties?
Abby and Landis sitting in the shade watching Garrett.


Boy Scouts learning to tie knots. Garret is in red on the
right with Abby and Landis standing in front of him.


Our tents and Landis roughing it with a drink from Sonic.


Coming back to the campsite from soccer Saturday morning.


Hannah has gotten really good at sports and loves it.


She is really growing into her agility and athleticism.


Landis didn't have his uniform so we put it on over his sweats
which made for an interesting style. He loved playing his first game.


Landis gives the thumbs up when the game is over...


...and Abby's just glad it's over. She was pooped out.

Apr 9, 2010

Where in the World are the Riggs Bunch?

From Michelle:

Fun pictures below.

Last night was spent in ER trying to solve the puzzle of Abby's headaches. Please pray the med change helps.

Riggs Family Packing List:

Chemo
Battery powered pulse oximeter
Breathing treatments
Bag full of other medications
Camera
and some not so lovely clothes

Can you guess where we are going? If I completed the list with tent, sleeping bags and a mess kit I bet you could.

Most of us (including Abby) are heading out on a camping trip with the Boy Scouts. Please pray for Abby's health and for the ones left behind. Everyone is excited!

A Couple of Pics

From Brent

Can you help me with photo captions for these? I'll choose a couple of winners for each and send the winners a free e-copy of any of my books if they want one.



Apr 8, 2010

Much Much Much Better Thumbnail Linky... thanks to your help.

After beta testing the first version, I figured out a MUCH better way to do thumbnail linky tool, thanks to YOUR help and great comments. Now the cropping is way cool and I've made it where the blog owner can choose different sizes of thumbnails (80, 120, 160 or 200 pixels).

Would you help me beta test the new tool? I'll be your best friend forever. Below are two lists, testing the 80px setting, and the 200 pixel setting.

Let's call these "Come Visit My Blog" lists.... leave a thumbnail (in both lists if you want), and link to your blog. THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME TEST THIS!

80 pixel Size




200 pixel size

Apr 5, 2010

Blog Hop - Favorite Photos - Easter 2010

From Brent

The Blog Hop theme for this Monday is "FAVORITE PHOTOS". We haven't shared photos in a while on the Blog Hop. Let's do some photos: Easter, Spring is Here, whatever you want. Let's all enjoy some great pics.

Here's info for the blog hop: http://www.mcklinky.com/blog_hop_code_get.asp

We are doing Easter pics...


Abby wearing her dress that Daddy bought her.


Hannah and Abby on the porch at MeeMaw and PawPaw's.
Ain't they darlin'?


PawPaw hamming it up with the kiddos.


SpideyLandis dashes for an egg.


Abby had a good day; she loved finding a pale of candy and eggs.


Hannah wore her traditional Ethiopian dress Sunday.



MeeMaw and Hannah on a sunny Easter Sunday.


The kids had a great time at their grandparents house.


SpideyLandis finds some treasure.

MckLinky Blog Hop