Honor Your Father and Mother


My view for much of the last week

One of the great advantages of the technology-driven world we live in is that it has expanded our capacity to initiate and sustain relationships regardless of physical distance. Much has been written about the good and the bad of this, and there is definitely plenty of both. But this is our reality. There’s no getting the toothpaste back in the tube at this point. In this past week I faced a tension and a question I hadn’t wrestled with before related to this new power – how do you communicate really important personal news in a personal and appropriate way when your social and relational network has exceeded your capacity to do so well?

My answer to that question was to leverage the power of the network. I used the tried-and-true approach of calling a few people and empowering them to pass the news. It worked great. Suddenly I was getting texts and calls from friends who found out second and sometimes third hand. But now that things have calmed a bit, I’m realizing that there are still lots of people who don’t know what’s going on in my life. And sometimes, people just need to know even if it’s not as personal as you’d like. So here’s what’s going on…

About six weeks ago while talking to my mom, she mentioned that my dad had been experiencing double vision, and they weren’t sure why. A trip to an optometrist yielded the hypothesis that a blood vessel in his eye had burst leading to the blurred vision, and it would probably pass. Then a couple weeks later he got choked while eating and said that he was having a hard time swallowing food. The double vision was persisting as well, but my dad resisted going to the doctor again which is pretty typical for him. He has always been stubborn and reluctant to see doctors until absolutely necessary. That point of necessity came when his right leg became weak and collapsed a week or so later, and he fell. My mom had had enough and took him to the ER.

At the ER they ordered an MRI of his brain to discover what was happening. Nothing in our world would be the same from that point on. The MRI revealed two spots, “lesions” (aka “tumors”) in his brain. Subsequent scans were ordered, and he was admitted to the hospital. That was ten days ago. I will not cover all the details, but as the days unfolded, the news became progressively worse. Dad has an aggressive stage 4 non-small cell carcinoma (sorry medical friends, can’t recall the name). They’re not sure where it started, but it has metastasized in his brain, spinal fluid, spine, lymph nodes, and one lung. Not good.

The doctors are most concerned with the cancer in his brain and in the fluid around his brain, because this is creating the most problems right now. His double vision persists, his right leg is still weak and unresponsive, and he is unable to eat or drink anything, forcing the insertion of a feeding tube. The treatment plan is to use radiation to reduce the cancer in his brain and spine and hopefully reverse the side effects. Once they finish that, they’ll begin chemotherapy to try and slow the advance of the cancer to other parts of his body. They tell us that at this point, there is no cure; only managing the cancer’s advance.

My brother was able to be here with my mom the first few days, and I got here 5 days ago. Thanks to an incredibly supportive team of staff and friends at New Denver Church, I’m going to be able to be here for at least another 7-10 days to help dad get through his first round of radiation treatments. After that, we’ll re-evaluate. Though difficult physically and emotionally, it has been an incredible blessing to serve my parents in this way. It has given me some insight into the promise wrapped up in God’s commandment to honor your father and mother:

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12 NIV)

Part of the reason I write is just to share. If you’re taking the time to read this, thanks for caring enough to do so. The other reason I’m writing is to ask for prayer. In the midst of so much bad news, God’s presence, mercy, wisdom and grace have been so evident in many many ways. I believe that is due in no small measure to the prayers that have been offered by friends and family. Specifically I’m asking that you pray for God’s mercy – whatever that looks like. I’m grateful that I picked up my friend Robert Gelinas’ new book The Mercy Prayer this week. It has been a comforting companion during long nights at the hospital, and we’ve seen many ways that God is already answering this prayer for his mercy. If you’re someone who prays, please join us in praying for God’s mercy – for my dad, for my mom, and for all those who love them.

Finally, I apologize if you’re hearing this for the first time. It seems somehow wrong to communicate personal news in such an impersonal way. But it was more important to me that you knew. Because only a friend would read this far, and as a friend, I wanted you to know.

9 replies
  1. Teri Smith
    Teri Smith says:

    So sorry to hear about the medical problems your dad is having. I am a long time friend of your mom’s and will keep your family in my prayers.

  2. Tammy Dysinger Pardue
    Tammy Dysinger Pardue says:


    I am praying for your dad and your whole family tonight. I pray you will feel God.s arms wrap around you as you go through this journey. Enjoy the quiet time with your dad and treasure each moment.

  3. Andrea Raabe
    Andrea Raabe says:


    I am so sorry to hear this news. I can so relate on two fronts. One, having someone you love have a symptom that sends them to the doctor and within days you're you find yourself having the surreal moment of being told it's cancer and that it's stage 4. Your world turns upside down, forever. I don't wish that moment on anyone, and I wish I could take it away from you and your family. And two, wondering how to let people know in a world of FB and electronic social media where it just seems too impersonal, or just downright weird, to share news like this with people who would want to know so they can offer their love and support. On that point, you're doing just fine.

    Actually, there's a third point I can relate to… a request for mercy. In whatever form or forms it may come, I wish for you an abundance of it.

    Please know I'm thinking about you and your family. If you have any questions about this kind of thing or want to talk, I am there for you. Just let me know. I found that finding someone who has had a similar experience can sometimes be a good sounding board or where you can ask some difficult questions.

    Take care.

  4. Amber Essman
    Amber Essman says:

    I understand the awkwardness of communicating this type of news via social media. Even sending a text can sometimes seem too impersonal. And yet, what better and faster way to rally an army of prayer warriors?
    I'm joining in the battle – praying for you and your family. May God surround your family with mercy and peace.

  5. April Hanner
    April Hanner says:

    I just found this on fb. Please know that we are praying for you all. I think your mom has my cellpcell phone number. If not then aunt Ruthie does. If you need someone to stay during the day or night. Please keep me in mind. Your dad is an amazing person. Who means a lot to me. Please give him my love. Love April

  6. Jm and Hollis Carlisle
    Jm and Hollis Carlisle says:


    We both know there are no perfect words for situations like this. Your family is in our prayers. He has to be a special man if he is your father.

    Thinking of your family,

    JM and Hollis Carlisle


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