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Thoughts from friends…
I went to the funeral of a dear friend’s dad earlier this week. We all knew this day was a possibility over the last year of fighting cancer, but we had hoped hard and prayed harder that the outcome would include more years, cuddles, and laughter for this beautiful family. We knew a funeral was a possibility and yet his passing felt sudden, like a shock to the heart.
To be honest, when I heard he had finally passed, I was angry. I was hurt and bitter and confused. I have known Roger since I fourteen-years-old when he first started cheering his daughter and I on at our tennis matches (we were doubles partners throughout high school) and I have seen his life unfold over the last 11 years. Over and over this week all I can think is that this patient man with two adopted children, two biological, and a wife he adored deserved a miracle, if anyone ever has. Perhaps that’s a silly thing to say, that someone deserves a miracle. Every sick person on the planet should be able to go home and be healthy. Or maybe none of us deserve miracles. But as I was standing too close to the glass of this situation all I could see was Roger hugging and playing with his two adopted children from Taiwan and China, the way he doted on his wife, the way he made you feel like he had all the time in the world when he asked you how you were, and the pride and affection he showed his two children in their twenties. If anyone deserved a miracle, Roger did, even though it may be a silly thing to say. Because if anyone did, he did.
I felt this way all week as we waited for the funeral, waited to hold each other’s hands and deal with this sudden thing whose permanence was beginning to settle on everything like dust.
When I walked into the church I made count of my surroundings—over 200 people in a room meant for about 150, almost everyone in light blue dress clothes or Green Bay Packer jerseys (his favorite team), flowers, photos. A scene you might expect for a well-loved man’s celebration of life ceremony.
But then his wife got up to speak, and then his daughter, two of the bravest women I know, and it was no longer a typical funeral. They transformed the room with their courage. These women, brimming with emotion, closest to the tragedy, got on stage and beamed life. They told their stories of the bravery and strength this man in their lives had shown through the hardest battle any of them had ever known. They shared how they wanted to carry on that same bravery and fortitude into every day life, every battle big or small.
I was humbled in my small bitterness. These women are anything but small, they are giants in their faith, warriors in their strength, and simultaneously the most gentle and beautiful creatures.
I don’t understand death or sickness or loss. Why we must endure it or why it occurs at all. But I know Roger was a brave man, a faith-filled man, a strong and humble man. A man who put others first, who was willing to reach across the globe to help a little girl left under a bridge as a newborn and make her feel like a princess, a man never too busy for a conversation or his kid’s water polo team.
The Anich family didn’t waste time in bitterness or pretending they weren’t in the battle they were in, they didn’t try to numb the pain, they didn’t run away. They stayed there, right in the thick of the battle loving each other with everything they had, praying unceasingly, hoping, believing, even laughing. And when it was over, it hurt, dreadfully. But it did not hurt because there was regret for having not said the words they had always meant to or memories that were left unmade. It hurt because they had lived life so utterly to the brim and the joy and pain of it all overflowed until the very end.
Roger is worth celebrating, and so are you. So like the Anichs can you…me…can we go out and be a little braver? Can we say the things that feel scary? Can we make memories that will last and be more aware of the people we love?
This life is a short and sweet and wild thing and I for one want to live it a little bit more like the brave and wild Anich family in all of their fierce love and hope in the midst of uncertainty and even death.
Hey there. Cassandra Lau from Antioch. I have been wanting to write you and tell you how God used roger to speak to me, and this story wouldn’t fit on the blue cards at church today, so I’ll write it here.
I have never spoken a single word to roger, although he probably introduced himself to me when we first starting coming to Antioch a while back. But one day during worship, he was holding Hannah, and she was looking at me from over his shoulder. All I could think about was how lucky she was to have been given a second chance at having a wonderful Godly family. although my second thought was how I couldn’t believe Roger (well, both of you) would want to adopt small children AFTER raising your own. While I’m in the thick of raising small children, and have fully embraced that role, I would love to adopt while raising my own kids. But I look forward to being “kid free” some time in my life to travel the world and start a career ect. So as I was watching roger worship while holding her and thinking he will probably never experience the things I long to experience after my kids are raised. The Lord began to speak to me. I hear God in the small things that don’t necessarily alter my life, but are just reminders. However every once in a while God will speak to me and It will forever be imprinted on my heart. That day during worship, The Lord said to me “you don’t understand why he would adopt now, because you have a poor perspective of eternity. You think you have to experience all that life has to offer now because you don’t understand what eternity is like. Roger knows eternity will be greater than what this life can offer, so he has given his life to love and He dosent have to live this life for pleasure, because he knows what’s coming”
And in the moment I was changed. I have never forgotten what God showed me. And every time I would see roger, I would remember all over again, that this life is the only chance we have to choose love. A love far greater than our own plans.
I see the same message when I see you. Rogers love will continue to live through you. And I’m thankful.
For all of our dear ones who prayed continuously with us we want to thank you and encourage you. We had prayed for healing this side of heaven for Roger but I want you to know about the miraculous healing we witnessed as Roger had complete healing in the presence of Jesus.
At the end of July Roger became suddenly very weak and had significant pain.In the ED on 7/28 they found active bleeding in his lung. The plan was to put in a chest tube that I could care for at home. After the procedure Roger had great relief but within 30 min had significant fluid accumulating in his lung and had to be intubated and put on a respirator. He spent the last 9 days of his life unable to verbalize, but what he communicated nonverbally was life changing for all of us. I knew he hated the tube and the confinement but he remained patient and kind, continuing to focus his strength on the fight at hand. He demonstrated amazing faith throughout this 8 months. He never denied the existence of cancer, he just denied cancer the ability to have influence over his mind and heart. During my quiet time with him the last few days I could see a shift in Roger’s outlook. He remained alert but his mind was completely occupied. His gaze was focused on things I could not see. I asked him if he could see Jesus and he answered “yes”. He had complete peace looking at his deliverance in the heavenly realm. I know how much he loves his family. He demonstrated his tenderness as we said our goodbyes, each individually and then all together.
Roger’s last day on earth was truly a miraculously joyful and peaceful transition that had already begun to take place. He was surrounded by family, angels, friends, and worship. An hour or so after removing the ventilator, the transition was complete and he courageously breathed his last in his earthly body. Rogers last words, “I want to stand up,” are a reflection of the sweet victory found only in surrender as he desired his physical body to match the spiritual reality he was already experiencing in the presence of the Healer.
Thank you all for your devotion to this miraculously beautiful journey that has only just begun.
We are in awe of your continued support and prayer for Roger at this time. We continue to be in submission to God’s will in all things. In mid June Roger had his long day of scans showing the tumor growth is slowed greatly but new metastasis is evident in the kidney. The radiation was effective but not the chemo. Rogers doctor has consulted specialists around the world about his case and done more gene profiling finding 2 other gene mutations that are present. Unfortunately there are no medications to treat these mutations. My friend continues to try to arrange an individual study for Roger with medications that would be off label but so far has not been able to push it through. Roger’s medication has been changed to another oral chemo that blessedly allows us to have less doctor visits and more rest and home time for him. During the last few doctors visits I have seen Rogers focus change. He was trusting the medical community with his complete healing until this point. He now knows that his healing will be supernatural. Isaiah 8:17 “our only hope is in HIM” became a breath prayer.
Roger started his new medication regime as our dear friend Mary Wisnewski came to visit. Again God’s timing is perfect. The change in medication brought back old unwanted symptoms and Roger became very tired and nauseated again. Mary brings light and laughter to any situation and she patiently, lovingly spent time with him reliving old memories, laughing over old pictures of us, and watching Brigadoon – the show we all met while performing in. Her positive spirit and ability to make everything an adventure appealed to Hannah who enjoyed every moment of girl time with her.
As Rogers weight began to drop again friends were prompted to bring dinners which helped to give him more food choices. Our brothers and sisters at Immanuel Lutheran Church blessed us with a front yard makeover saving me countless hours of yardwork. And the kids favorite blessing of all – a Simma’s Cheesecake delivered by John and Mark from Wisconsin. Roger had a piece every night for a week. He gained 5 lbs last week! I loved watching him eat every bite. You see to us Simma’s cheesecake means celebration. It started with a cake for my Mom and Dad’s 40th anniversary years ago. It became our tradition that at every special event we had a Simmas cheesecake. I told John and Mark that we expect and celebrate the fact that Roger’s healing is imminent now. We have the cake!!
We have taken the last month to soak in God’s presence every minute we can. It has been a necessity to stay focused on the truth while the world view assaults us with darkness. We have been isolated just a bit but its been a blessing during this season. We are definitely being prepared in this wilderness experience. It is a time of intense testing but He is demonstrating His loving character in every encounter. I am reminded that God planned for the Israelites to have a wilderness time to bring them into worship of the Promise Giver instead of only focusing on the Promise. We have been promised healing but God has so much more planned for us! Please pray that Roger remains strong and courageous like Joshua as he was being prepared to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. God is so faithful to give us all that we need at all times!
Tonight while soaking Hannah saw Roger running a race and coming to the finish line. The tape at the finish line read “I can’t.” She saw Roger take a scissors and cut out the apostrophe and t, and run through the finish line of “I can” with perfect ease! He is being made ready to come out of this wilderness time and we agree that yes, he can because we are yoked to the One who conquered the wilderness!!!
Thank you for your continued faithful prayers!! We love you!!!
Hello Prayer Warriors!
If you would like to sign up to be a part of the prayer chain for Roger please click on the link. We are seeking the Lord with faith knowing that He is a GOOD Father who loves to hear His children’s voices!
Great friends came to visit last week and set the tone for accelerated healing! Before they left Wisconsin Mark and John purposefully united with Roger and his journey by shaving their heads. Our entire family was blessed by their gourmet cooking skills and love of music. For three days we ate, sang,and laughed while they loved on their friend. Sam was most touched to see how unashamed they were at expressing their love for Roger. Their innate gifts of love and laughter along with teasing and reminiscing began an emotional shift in Roger. He has had a hard time focusing on the truth instead of the symptoms since his hospitalization. He is weary, and gives in to the fatigue easily choosing to sleep instead of eat and drink. I’m sure the promise of healing seems so remote to him at times. He was hearing all the positive words spoken over him but not taking them to heart until the boys came. Hearing positive words of truth from them lifted his head up again. He has gained 10 lbs this month and is willingly taking my calorie and protein rich concoctions. The complaining about the meds and vitamins and injections has stopped and he is starting to take them at times without being reminded. But most importantly he has redetermined that this journey is purposeful. He is convinced that God is taking him deeper into relationship with Him and it involves active seeking of his Fathers heart.
I have loved reading and digesting Isaiah during this journey. This week God brought me to the end of this book. As I finished Chapter 66 I was overjoyed with the feeling of completion. This book was a gift to me for this process and now I feel Gods presence giving me peace that the time of healing is at hand. God daily brings me back to Chapter 62 which begins with God telling us to not rest from praying until righteousness shines like the dawn and salvation blazes like a burning torch. He is promising us that we will see a miraculous transformation in Roger and in ourselves. What touches me most about our Fathers love in this chapter is that we are held as a crown (reward) in Gods hands, made for His enjoyment. God celebrates His victory with us by lifting us up for all to see and rejoices over us! How can we do anything but focus on Him with praise and thanksgiving!! We are told that we are to pray day and night for the fulfillment of His promises. God challenges us to give Him no rest until we are praising Him for His miraculous healing of Roger.
We feel God calling us to unite in a concentrated time of prayer to see His promises completed in Roger. You are our watchmen, our prayer warriors. You are an incredible gift to us and an essential part of God’s healing plan. Would you consider being part of twenty-four hour prayer for Roger until we witness his healing? I will post a schedule of 15 minute intervals that we can sign up for to cover our 24 hour time span. God is moving!! He has already provided remarkable healing with a positive report of cancer being defeated in the metastasis in the brain this week!!! United in the power of prayer, cancer does not stand a chance!!!
Mothers Day was put on hold this year for a special road trip to Bethel Church in Redding CA. Roger, Madeline and I subscribe and listen to sermons and teachings from Bethel regularly. Bethel as a church body has an annointing for healing and the body has passionately embraced the calling in many ways. Roger had prayed about visiting the healing room at Bethel and had confirmation that the 3 of us should go. We drove through the night Friday to participate in the Healing Ministry early Saturday morning. Madline and I were so excited that we didn’t stop talking until Visalia. From the moment we drove into the parking lot you felt something special. The property is gorgeous, with a view of Mt. Shasta but there is an increased sense of the presence of God that is overwhelming.. The ministry team saw 400 people that morning. People came from Brazil, South Africa, Australia.
Our hearts shifted from weariness to worship as we entered the hope-filled atmosphere of the healing rooms on Saturday morning. Everywhere we looked there were people encountering Jesus and loving each other through prayer. The stage was full of precious and powerful children dancing and worshiping Jesus, releasing a beautiful spirit of freedom. As we took it all in and entered into woship, God appointed a group to pray for and encourage us. This group of three ladies included two dynamic pre-teens whose faith filled prayers were earth shattering and prophetic words struck deep.
We were so impacted and encouraged by lives of genuine faith that surrounded us…lives that expected the miraculous in faith that our Great God is all that He says He is and more!
We headed home Sunday afternoon following an unforgettable time of worship and soaking time in the prayer room with hopeful hearts and open eyes for what the Lord has in store for us as we continue placing our trust on Him and His goodness. With the reminder that the Father is after so more more than the mere extraction of cancer, we were reminded to keep our eyes open, ready, aware, and perceptive of the leading of the Holy Spirit to spot out and position ourselves to be transformed by the renewing of our mind and to partner with Him for the greatness that lies ahead!