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 was so touched reading this about your sister in love. What a blessing to have happened upon your story today.
    So sorry for your loss. Your beloved, Thais, is now enjoying her other beautiful life in heaven,.
    I’m. Looking forward to reading your blog & Letting Go!
    God Bless,

  2. I came to this post (and blog) quite by accident…. I think.

    Thank you for reminding me of a few more beautiful ways we can love one another. I hope your sister in law is all filled up when she finally does depart your lovely and loving family.

  3. Keeping all of you lifted in prayer. Your blog posts about sister-in-love’s journey and how you have rallied around her have been inspirational. Thank you.

  4. Dear Karen (which is also my Mom’s name, btw)

    I had the great pleasure of meeting you at Courtney’s WLW conference in August 2013 and had you sign my copy of Let it go :) been a fan ever since. We’ll be here when you return. Sometimes breaks from blogging are necessary and this is a pretty valid reason.

    I will keep your dearest SIL in my thoughts and prayers over the next few hours.and pray that her transition into the loving arms of our Lord and Savior is as painless & peaceful as it can possibly are where you need to be right now. Lifting your family up in prayer.

  5. Thanks for sharing with us Karen. You are an inspiration to me. I will be praying for you and yours.
    Your sister in law sounds like an amazing lady. Kooky just the way I like em! Xoxo

  6. Karen, thank you for sharing!!! I too will be praying for you and your family!!! What a blessing to have this time together!!!

  7. Karen,

    Your family is my prayers. Enjoy every last minute of your time with your sister-in-love. May God give your family peace and strength over the weeks ahead. God bless you.

    Regina Cozad

  8. Karen, Will be praying for your Thais and your whole family. May God’s grace and peace fill your lives as you travel through this difficult time.

  9. May God bless and keep your family. The final days and weeks are a gift. I walked through it with my Dad. I would not trade one minute of it. Prayers for all of you.

  10. Reading your blog post and looking at the pictures….my heart breaks for you and your family. How wonderful that you are able to spend time with her and celebrate the holidays (great hats by the way!). Loved the pictures. What a blessing that most of you were able to gather together. Treasure these pictures and these moments….will definitely keep your family in my prayers……

  11. Karen, this is so beautiful! My best friend’s sister just went home to be with Jesus 6 1/2 years after she was told she might not make the holidays. God and the Holy Spirit that lives within us will continually amaze and confound traditional medicine. What a blessing for you to be able to take this time and love on your sister in love! Treasure each and every moment and while you are there I will be praying! God Bless you, Todd, Thais and your entire family.

  12. dearest Karen,
    My heart is sad for you and all you are going through at this time. I read your sister – in- law’s book. I gave the book away when I finished it to encourage someone else who had a very dear friend with cancer. Thais had such a fighting attitude, I am not surprised she has lived far beyond the time given to her by the medical doctors. Your family is such a witness to your love for Jesus. I would love to have you and Thais as my sisters. You are both blest beyond measure to have such a loving family. Thank you for sharing the pictures and the times you two have been able to be together. I am praying for all of you. When God welcomes Thais home, he will say “well done my faithful daughter, you are home where there will be no more pain, tears or suffering.”

  13. I love your family! Tears rolled down my face as I read your post and learned of your love for each other and all the meaningful and wonderful ways you have spent time with Thais. I’m so deeply moved and touched by this post, and I’m praying that God will keep His loving arms wrapped around each and every one of you in a special way. I’m praying that God, in His mercy, will soon reveal a total prevention for cancer and in the meantime, great and wonderful treatments that are not so harsh on the body and that would work 100% of the time. I pray that God will give Thais and all of you peace, comfort and strength as she prepares to meet Jesus and enters into eternal life! God bless all of you!

  14. May God bless Thais and keep her, may He make His face to shine upon her and be gracious unto her.

    With heartfelt love, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

  15. Oh Karen, what a post. The tears are falling…praying for you as you and your family walk this road. Grateful for the memories you are making. Asking God to direct me to the “someone” He has for me. Asking God to continue His work in and through Thais. Blessings to you.

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