Blogging Break {Please Pray for Our Family}

UPDATE: Thais Ann Ehman VanGinhoven passed away on Wednesday, October 29th at 5:50 pm surrounded by loved ones, including me. Please pray for our family as we pay our last respects to this courageous woman who loved both her family and Jesus very much.


Dear blog readers whom I love so very much,

Many of you have been following the journey of my sister-in-law Thais who is more than a sister-in-law to me. Since I have no sisters, she has become one to me and she is also one of my closest friends.

My three kiddos with their aunt in the summer of 2011

Thais first was diagnosed with breast cancer near Thanksgiving in 2002. After treatment it seemed to be gone. She enjoyed some good years of health and then, in late June of 2011, it returned as bone cancer. She was told she had 6 months to live.

But my strong sister-in-law was never really one to do as she’s told. (Our youngest son shares that same trait and they are very close. We joke that I gave birth to him, but he is really HER boy!)

Thais, my daughter and me at one of my speaking events in 2007
Thais, my daughter and me at one of my speaking events in 2007

She has lived now 3 years and 4 months since being told she had only a half year left. Instead of not seeing another Christmas, she has been blessed with three more.

On October 1st, this amazingly courageous woman, who loves both Jesus and her family very much, was told there was nothing more to be done and she should consider a hospice home. Again just “days or maybe a week at most” was what was told.

Three-and-a-half weeks later, she is still alive. However she is no longer eating or drinking much and her responsiveness is waning.

I was blessed to be able to stay extended overnights (up to 5 days in a row) with her at the hospice home while my husband and I took turns holding down the fort. (Hospice is a four-hour round trip from me. Todd was laid off the past three weeks so we were both more free to travel which was a blessing in disguise.)

We had a “slumber party” Ate snacks. Made Halloween come early and prank called her siblings and nieces and nephews on FaceTime with masks on.

Our FaceTime prank calls. Halloween came early for us at our slumber party two weeks ago. ;-)
Our FaceTime prank calls. Halloween came early for us at our slumber party two weeks ago. ;-)

I held her hand. Wheeled her out in the autumn sun to “pick leaves” off the colorful trees. {She did the pointing. I did the picking}

We drank “Chocolate coffee” (bottled iced mochas) and I ran a gazilion times to to KFC drive through to get her mashed potatoes and gravy which she was craving so much.

Thais and me with her baby brother, my husband Todd. I fell in love all over again with this man as I watched him feed his big sister many of her meals the last few weeks.
Thais and me with her baby brother, my husband Todd. I fell in love all over again with this man as I watched him feed his big sister many of her meals the last few weeks.

We read the Bible and talked. About the streets made of gold. The no more pain. Or tears. And about having a new body!!!! {She says she will be able to fit into her white bikini from high school. Well, “If that is ok with Jesus”}

Last weekend all her siblings but one were able to fly home so we could have Thanksgiving together in the hospice. My nephew, my mom and my stepmom pitched in to help me prepare a feast.

There was laughter. And tears. And “memory wars” of just how something went down in my husband’s childhood home. And crazy costumes.

Only Aunt Thais could get my two boys to wear Pilgrim hats.


We prayed. And ate. And then the siblings went “outside to play” one last time together as the sun was beginning to set on a glorious and warm Michigan fall day.

My husband and two of his sisters Facetiming their one brother who couldn't be there.
My husband and two of his sisters Facetiming their one brother who couldn’t be there.

Until my sister-in-love passes from this life into God’s arms I taking a blogging break. {I will post updates and pics on Facebook and Twitter or Instagram if you’d like to keep up and know how to pray for our family.}

Will you do something for me? Call that person. You know who I mean. The one you have been meaning to call but have been too busy with other things to follow through with your intentions.

Or the one you need to tell you are sorry.

Or you miss them.

Or to ask for their forgiveness.

Or the family member you take for granted because they are always there. Too familiar. Too near. As a result it has been years since you just picked up the phone on a random day to call and say, “I forget to tell you this very often but I love you. I can’t imagine my life without you. Thanks for just being you.”

Life is short. God is gracious. Relationships matter.

Not everyone is granted the gift of a long goodbye.


  1. Karen i am praying for you, your family and especially sweet Thais, she sounds like a wonderful person. Though this is a hard time we as Christians also know it can be a very sweet time. I just went through this with my dad and the last 6 months and especially the last 3 weeks of his life were so sweet and tender and filled love and laughter with lots and lots of old memories and the new ones we created. God bless you and be with you during this special time. Love and prayers, dikki

  2. I am so sorry, Karen! In honor of this post and your lovely and brave sister-in-law, I am going to make every attempt to go visit some relatives for Thanksgiving this year, some of whom I haven’t seen in a couple of years. And I’m praying for your family.

  3. My heart goes out to you and your sister-in-love, and family. It breaks my heart with what your sister-in-love has been going through, and what a strong woman she is. The way that she is loved and cared for so greatly by all of you is so heartwarming, while keeping conversations of the Lord and his promises right there in presence is so preciously encouraging for what she is going through. My prayers are with all of you.

  4. Praying with confidence that God is there with you as a host of loved ones already with Him are gathering for a heavenly reunion. What a day that will be. Much love and blessings on you all. A sister in Christ who has walked that road.

  5. Dear Lord, please be with this sweet dear family at this difficult time. Please wrap your loving arms around them as only You can…hold them tight, bring your eternal promises and truth and words to their mind and hearts. Help Thais transition from this life to the next easily. Please give them all the strength they need for each moment during this journey. Thank you, Loving Father for your love, grace, and mercy for this family. Amen.

  6. Beautiful! Live, love, and laugh. Our God is AWESOME!

    Thank you Jesus for giving us each one more day…Cancer is hard, God is easy!
    I know…

  7. Oh, I am praying for you with all my heart right now. We just lost my husband’s uncle to bone cancer last weekend and this weekend, my daughter (she’s 10) just lost her great grandpa who she was very close to. She’s finding it very hard to deal with both of these special people being gone although she knows that God healed them of their pain by taking them to Heaven. I know you all are and will be hurting and I am glad that you get this time with her. My prayers are with you, your sister-in-law and the whole family.

  8. We went through this with my aunt as well. We learned to treasure every moment as you are doing. I will be praying for you all during this time.

  9. Karen, this was a beautifully writtten story of your love for your sister in love. Your family and sweet Thais will be in my prayers. May the Lord bless you all during the coming days and weeks. What precious memories you all have made with Thais. What a spunky little redhead she seems to be. Enjoy this time together. Many hugs and prayers sent up on y’all’s behalf.
    Blessings to you,

  10. Oh Karen, I am sitting in front of my computer in tears. My heart breaks for you and your family. I will do as you have requested, I will call that “someone”. AND, I will keep praying for you all.
    Blessings friend,

  11. Prayers to you and all the family during this time and in the days ahead. Father God, I ask you to continue to bless each person of this family during this difficult time. May they feel your presence in the midst as you shower them with your love and grace. Hold them in your loving arms and give them strength needed each day. In your precious name I pray. Amen.

  12. Having just gone through this not once but twice this year (once with my niece who died at 33 from ALS and the other with my mother who had Alzheimer’s) I offer you all not just my sympathy, but also my empathy. Lord God of Creation, who holds us all in Your Holy Hands, I ask Your blessings upon all your servants who are connected by love to Thais and for Thais herself. Bless them all with an abiding sense of Your presence with them at this time. Fill their aching hearts with Your peace which surpasses all our understanding. Provide them with support and encouragement even as they provide those for each other. Grant them time to grieve and may they find all they need by leaning on You. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.

  13. May our Father continue to bless and keep the all of you especially during these most difficult of days. May his love and grace continue to bind this family in all that they see, say and do for now until everlasting in Jesus name we pray. Amen

  14. Karen, I am praying for you and your family. Having lost my Mom a little over 2 years ago and being blessed to spend the 40 days of her life with her day and night I completely understand the need for your break. Take care of you while you take care of your sister-in-love.

  15. Karen, I don’t know you…I followed your link through a friend of mine (Carol Graft) on facebook because I recognized your sister-in-love’s name. She was my dental hygienist for many years…I asked for her by name when I called to make appointments because she was my favorite. Always gentle, always funny, always asking about my life and sharing bits of hers. She remembered my name and details about my kids when I came in 6 months later for my cleaning. I knew she loved her new little brick house with its pretty garden. She impacted my life in just her kind everyday way of living Praying for you all as you spend these last days with her.

  16. OH Karen – I am right there with you. We lost my sister in love at just 34 years old leaving behind three young children. I know exactly how to pray. It’s never easy, but knowing they will be dancing on those streets of gold together someday soon brings my heart a new sense of joy. To see our savior soon…..

  17. Karen, I am praying for your family and Thais. If you have a moment, would you tell me how to pronounce her name? I know God knows her precious name and doesn’t need my help, but I’d like to be able to pray for her by name :)


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