Dearest Great Cloud of Witnesses,

Since the beginning of May, I’ve been challenged more than ever by the rule of M.A.R.F.! Our family has tried to live by this acronym for many, many years. It stands for Maintain Absolute Rigid Flexibility—kind of a “go with the flow” thing.

Well, the flow has been a torrent for the past six weeks. Since I last wrote, I had to stop the chemo I was on because CT scans showed that the tumors were growing rapidly. Our oncologist said there was one more thing we can try—a combination of pills I will take at home every day and infusions at the cancer center. I had a port placed in my chest on Tuesday so I’m sore. The chemo (both types) will start next Tuesday. We’ll know in about two months if there is any improvement.

In the midst of all this, we had many times to celebrate! Our oldest grandson, Jeffrey Coffman, graduated from UNC Wilmington and our immediate family gathered in our home for a cookout! Jeffrey moved to Colorado, has a job, and a precious girlfriend, Lizzy. My Mom celebrated her 91st birthday. Heather’s baby, Tucker, had his 1st birthday. What a cutie! Collin, Heather’s oldest graduated from middle school and is headed to high school in the fall. Brenna graduated from elementary school to middle school. We had a great visit with friends from PA. And, now I am blessed to have my Mom and sister, Camilla, with us for the next couple of weeks while we get this new chemo underway.

Our faith community has lovingly prepared meals for us. I get hope-filled cards almost every day. Lots of emails, too! Terry fields most phone calls for me because I get very short of breath talking. (One of the tumors is pressing against a bronchial branch.) Sorry I have not responded in a timely manner to all your messages of love and encouragement! Energy is in short supply and the days go by much too quickly!

One of my Anam Cara’s recently reminded me of a favorite Henri Nouwen book, Bread for the Journey. This passage hit me personally and I believe it can apply to some of the horrendous challenges our culture is facing: Henri wrote, “Trees look strong compared with the wild reeds in the field. But when the storm comes the trees are uprooted, whereas the wild reeds, while moved back and forth by the wind, remain rooted and are standing up again when the storm has calmed down.

Flexibility is a great virtue. When we cling to our own positions and are not willing to let our hearts be moved back and forth a little by the ideas or actions of others, we may easily be broken. Being like wild reeds does not mean being wishy-washy. It means moving a little with the winds of the time while remaining solidly anchored in the ground. A humorless, intense, opinionated rigidity about current issues might cause these issues to break our spirits and make us bitter people. Let’s be flexible while being deeply rooted.”

I’ll try to touch base as I can as this new “adventure” begins! May we all be deeply rooted in the soil of a loving God and find it in our hearts to listen and be moved a little by the stories of others.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,

let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NRSV)


  1. Mary Lou McMillin
    Jun 16, 2016

    Thank you dear friend. Always ‘lifted’ by your spirit & your words. Praying for you as you begin this next piece of the journey. May peace & love surround you & sustain you. Love you Love you Love you!!

  2. Melissa Henderson
    Jun 16, 2016

    Praying for you and sending love and soft hugs.

  3. Pat Churchman
    Jun 16, 2016

    Oh Donna,
    I am so glad to hear from you and rejoice with you on the family accomplishments. Also hope and pray the new chemo does what it’s supposed to do. You are quite miraculous.
    Much love,

  4. sandra pulizzi
    Jun 16, 2016

    As always soulful words and a beautiful faith filled message. Praying for your healing, comfort and peace. HUGS, Sandi

  5. Frances Hedgepeth
    Jun 16, 2016

    Donna, you are my hero and inspiration! I love you! My prayers never cease for you!
    Sending gentle hugs!

  6. Mary Jo Andersen
    Jun 16, 2016

    Keep on keeping on my dear friend! Thoughts and prayers coming your way everyday! Hugs to you and Terry! Love you! MJ

  7. Shannon
    Jun 16, 2016

    MARF is a longstanding BSA axiom and is one by we still live. You go, girl. Please know that you and your family remain in our thoughts and prayers. Love ya, Shannon and Harold

  8. Sarah Phelps
    Jun 16, 2016

    You are constantly in our thoughts, Donna. I admire your strength and courage. Surely a breakthrough is near???

  9. Tam Larson
    Jun 17, 2016

    Well, what a blessing it was to make this whirlwind trip down to see you and the family. We made it home in 10 hours driving time and w/o the challenges of I-95. Although, 81 had its fair share of challenges , too, Terry’s directions were right on and give him a big thank you for us. It was great seeing your Mother and Camillia again, too. Be assured you remain in our prayers and there will be extra special ones as you start the new chemo regime on Tuesday. Love and Hugs!

  10. Terry
    Jun 17, 2016

    Whew….great post & summary of “what am”. Guidepost worthy. See ya Sun.


  11. Mary Himelright
    Jun 17, 2016

    Loved the “MARF method” when I first heard about it long ago from one of you! Bless your heart it made me smile again as your sense of humor shines through always. Perpetual prayers and much love to you and yours.

  12. Gloria Lee Moe
    Jun 17, 2016

    To touch with LOVE is HEALING!
    May you continue to be POWERFULLY touched as you so powerfully touch others!

  13. Melodie Davis
    Jun 17, 2016

    I prayed for you as I got awake in the night. I love that your mother can be there–didn’t know she was still living. What a tough time. Going through some hiccups this week with my husband’s very minor surgery and his aftercare makes me a teensy bit aware of the trials you continue to face. I hope this is a decent day for you!

  14. Brenda Linkenhoker
    Jun 17, 2016

    My prayers are with you each and every day. You star is bright in my life. Love to all. Will be praying especially hard on chemo days

  15. Marlene Waymack
    Jun 21, 2016

    Dear Donna, what an inspiration are you!! A Christian woman who leads others even in the midst of her afflictions. I think of you often and pray for you daily. May you be granted the peace & joys you give to others.

  16. Nancy
    Jun 22, 2016

    Donna – so sorry to hear of your news and the tumors continuing to grow. Praying that your new treatment works this time. So glad you have a lot of family to keep your mind in a happy place. Will continue to keep you my prayers and you keep up with the cheery attitude. Love you XOXOXO

  17. Judy Lee
    Jun 28, 2016

    Dear friend, you have no idea how your powerful messages bring faith and joy to so many. May this new treatment bring you increase stamina and shrink those little tumors. I think of you so very much and you have manyindividuals who love and praying for you and your family. Bless you dear and Terry. Love and soft hugs

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