This was a rough day for Don. He has accepted and been accustomed to living with pain for the past 15 months. But the pain today was at a different level altogether. He said this afternoon to the nurse, “it hurts all over my body; this is different — I’ve never felt this way before.” They administered many IV doses of painkiller, and this afternoon Dr. Lee authorized the maximum dosage. By late afternoon the painkillers really knocked him out. It is a mercy that he can sleep, but there is also a sense of loss that he has so few conscious and lucid moments now.

Unless things turn around dramatically, Heather asks any of us who are considering visiting at the hospital to consider that Don will not likely be able to engage with visitors, and you might not even be able to step into his room. But if you do come, feel free to leave a note for Don & Heather in the notebook outside the door.

Tomorrow may be different. We hope so. But tonight it seems that the finish line is in sight for Don. The dance is winding down, but prayers are always timely.

Skip, for Don & Heather

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26 Comments so far

  1. Randor on December 4, 2007 10:15 pm

    Dear Don, Heather, Bo, Johnny, and Skip,

    Debbie and I continue to pray without ceasing for all of you as you walk together down this difficult path that leads to the Edge of Heaven. All of you are great examples of Christ’s love in action! We thank God that we have been able to know you and learn from you all, especially you Don. We all look forward to dancing together very soon!

    With all our love, Randy and Debbie

  2. elthomas on December 4, 2007 10:39 pm

    Thank you for the “dancing lessons” . . .
    The Lansing/Thomas family

  3. Allison Singleton on December 4, 2007 11:04 pm

    We are praying for you and holding you all close to our hearts. May God bless you!!!

    With Love,
    Allison, Matt, Sam and Noah Singleton

  4. Steve Sywulka on December 4, 2007 11:49 pm

    We are praying for you and the family specially in these critical days.

    Steve and Elisa

  5. Lisa Kumcur on December 5, 2007 12:01 am

    Don and Heather, There is not a day that goes by that I am not thinking of you. Maddy asks often and we feel your joys and pains. Being a nurse I know how very important family time is and how difficult it is to rest and have intimate time in the hospital. There have been many times I have restrained myself from visting because I felt it was not the time to intrude, so to speak. I see that our distance probably was for the better, but I wanted the four of you to know we are silent, but listening. I sent Heather a text at the beginning of this last hospitalization, simply said I love you. Tears flow tonight, I hate to hear of the physical pain and the slowing of the dance. Don I say my goodbyes now because I might not get to otherwise. May you pass with peace and comfort to Jesus’s waiting arms. Know that you are loved by us, we have cherished years of memories and we will always be close for Heather and the boys. Lisa, Whitney and Madison. (Mustafa and Jesse too).

  6. jeremymallen on December 5, 2007 12:02 am

    Dear Don,

    Over the last 15 months you’ve been on this journey, it’s been all about Jesus, all of the time. And you’ve lived courageously, trusting in Jesus while you’ve been dancing on the edge of heaven.

    Through your blogs and sharing with the guys of the tool group, you’ve shown me more about what ‘living life to the full’ in Christ looks like than I ever knew before.

    May God bless you tonight and give you a clear mind and relief from the pain you’re in.

    Love you brother


  7. Libby and Brian on December 5, 2007 1:03 am

    Goodnight Don and Heather! We are praying for you as we go to bed. May God’s peace rest on you as never before.

    Heather, as I pray, I’m so thankful to be able to picture right where you are, what your room is like, what you are wearing :)! Somehow, amidst everything, you were glowing today…God’s love so obviously pouring through you. I will never forget the picture of you gently smoothing out Don’s forehead with your fingers. No one could love him better. You are an amazing woman, Heather, and so loved! Love, Libby (for Brian, Ellie and Jack too)

  8. Carlos on December 5, 2007 5:39 am

    From Connie:

    I am praying for the Lord to pour out his grace over you like a blanket, embracing you all. He is most certainly pleased with how many hearts and souls you touched for Him.

    Don, as I’ve known you to do things…always in style, always leading the way.
    God bless you all.
    With Love from,

  9. on December 5, 2007 8:44 am

    Dear Ones, I sense that Don’s journey in this world is about to end, and that the new great adventure is about to begin? Like Paul, Don has been pondering the staying and the going with the Lord. Our prayers here are that God would truly speak to the hearts of all those gathered there in Seattle, that He would grant Peace and Strength as only He can to Heather, Johnny and Bo in this hour and beyond.

    I know many of us have been praying for God’s miraculous healing in these last hours, but also the “nevertheless Thy Will be done.” Either way, I pray that we will respond to God’s Love and Will by dedicating or rededicating our lives to be His instruments of Grace and Love. I pray that we will be willing to sacrifice all to the Glory and Honor of His Name . . . and this to honor Don as well. I pray that we will be willing to “die to this world” and all it’s riches . . . to lay down our worldly lives for this friend and His Lord.

    May God’s Presence be tangible and full of Peace in that room.

    Pat & Patti

  10. Jeff Kemp on December 5, 2007 8:59 am

    I’ve never met you, Don, but I pray for you often. I work for Jeff Kemp, and have been reading your blog updates in the course of working for him. I’m so glad Jesus has made the way for us to go to Heaven, and I’ll look forward to meeting you there.

  11. MicheleP on December 5, 2007 9:22 am

    Dear Don and Heather,

    I stumbled upon your blog a few months ago and have been following your journey ever since.

    4 years ago, my husband and I went through a deep valley as our infant son and daughter went to heaven.

    One thing in particular that we prayed for was for God to show us His purpose in all of this and for us to be able to accept our childrens’ lives in heaven and not here with us where we so desperately wanted them.

    Listening to your story, and hearing your anticipation of Heaven with joy in your heart has given me such a renewed appreciation for where my children ARE instead of where they are not.

    Thank you so very much for being willing to be so open and so vunerable during this time. Thank you for showing us these glimpses of Heaven through your words. Thank you for allowing God to minister through you even in trials. No doubt has your testimony of God’s love been used in a mighty and powerful way.

    Because of Him,

  12. paulamelby on December 5, 2007 9:27 am

    May you know that you are in our prayers. May God Bless you, love Paula and Jim Melby

  13. joyce on December 5, 2007 9:30 am

    Dear Don —

    Thought you should know that a hospital security team paid me a visit yesterday by breaking into my office in a swat-like operation and demanding that I “assume the position.” They began grilling me about a certain beer that was apparently smuggled into your room yesterday without the knowledge of hospital staff. For whatever reason they had “good intel” that I was somehow connected to this mysterious beer. I pleaded ignorance as to the whole affair, of course, but asked them if you had enjoyed the beer that I knew nothing about. They told me that you had sipped the beer through a straw and then exclaimed “Wow! Wow! Wow!” When they asked me why I was smiling so broadly, I told them that the last time I had heard you say “wow” was when you looked up from the wheel of the motor boat and realized that you had finally succeeded in pulling my swimsuit completely off by whipping me around on that inner tube. I will never forget your face when you realized that you had successfully exposed my skinny, white rear end to the world. I prayed then that I would find my suit before getting back to land and all the people waiting on the beach…and I did. I only hope that my prayers now — that you are peaceful, pain free, and strong — are answered as quickly. Joyce and the girls and I love you all very much.


    Rob, Joyce, Megan, Olivia and Tori

  14. rakemorales on December 5, 2007 10:06 am

    From Mario Morales in Guatemala:

    Hola Gregorio

    Gracias por las noticias de Don, enterado de su momento y la situación, así también del testimonio del manejo de la enfermedad en su cuerpo y el mensaje que el proceso nos deja,

    Con aprecio, con meditación de la vida y con oraciones para Don (su alma, cuerpo y espíritu) así como para Heather y sus hijos.

    Gracias Dios por el privilegio que nos has dado de tener a Don, un gran hijo tuyo que en medio del dolor y la enfermedad, goza de conocerte y de la profesión de su fé en ti, en el Espiritu Santo y en tu hijo amado Jesús.

    Mario Morales

  15. lisabu on December 5, 2007 10:10 am

    Dear lovely Valencia family, we’re thinking of you and praying and sending you all our best wishes…your blog is so inspiring, and I know it has influenced so many people as to how to deal with difficulties with grace and love…I feel so blessed that I have you in my life this past year.

    all best,

    Lisa Buchwalter and family

  16. David Carlson on December 5, 2007 10:49 am

    This morning at the Dentist, while prone before the hygenist working away, she asked, “How are things with you?” Between her expertise cleaning and suctioning I managed to share about what was foremost on my mind, your unfolding story. She opened up her heart before me as never before in all the years of her care and I left in awe again of how even in these most painful hours, the Lord Jesus is speaking through you through us…reading the blog posts of so many here one cannot but weep…a mixture of tears of joy and grief, those two poles of our souls. But mostly, it’s the feast of community you’ve created herein, albeit mostly virtual, but as those nearby can attest, a very genuine and real community of care, yea, even of healing. In fact, Wendell Berry poignantly writes about this reality “Healing is impossible in loneliness; it is the opposite of loneliness. Conviviality is healing. To be healed we must come with all the other creatures to the feast of Creation. . . . The fatal sickness is despair, a wound that cannot be healed because it is encapsulated in loneliness, surrounded by speechlessness.” You’re healing, whether here or “dancing with the stars”, has been to create this place of “conviviality”, this community for feasting all our Creator has given us to share, wiping away the dark corridors of loneliness. As our beloved brother Mario Morales writes above in his closing line: “Thank you God for the privilege you have given us all to have in Don a great son of yours, who in the midst of his pain and sickness, has shared his joy of knowing you, with his profession of faith in you, in the Holy Spirit and in your beloved son Jesus.” To which we all say, “Amen, amen and amen!”

    With tearful but loving embraces, always,

    Tu hermanito en Cristo,

  17. Eric Stelter on December 5, 2007 11:19 am

    Brother Don,

    Thank you for all that you have shown me about being a man. I have treasured the little time we have had together. As I told you, praying for you so much these past months has made me feel close to you all along the way. I haven’t had you out of my thoughts these last several days, and I am holding you and yours up in prayer as I am able.

    in his love,


  18. georgerc on December 5, 2007 12:12 pm

    Don & Heather (Skip & the boys, too)–
    May you continue to find yourselves deeply blessed and immersed in God’s love through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I am blessed in knowing you, if only briefly.
    Thanks for sharing your story so transparently! May you continue also to inspire others.
    In Him,

  19. bibarunyan on December 5, 2007 12:17 pm

    Dear Don,
    You are always in my prayers. You have been an inspiration to me both at work and in faith. I have tried to follow your lead in the way I handled my career and only hope that I can keep up the pace with your inspiring faith in the years to come. I will continue to pray for you and your family. Thanks for sharing.

  20. dan.glanville on December 5, 2007 1:53 pm

    Don and Heather,

    what joy you both bring to my heart when I even think about you. You both have invited many into your home, your life, your joys and your pains. I am so grateful for the work that Jesus is doing through both of you. I was just with my family in Vancouver, WA and they wanted you to know that they are praying for you and love you very much. Your friend, Dan Glanville

  21. Carl Snell on December 5, 2007 2:18 pm

    Don is moving from a World that is Temporary to The World Eternal.

    He is moving from this World of insecurity to a World Totally Secure.

    Don is moving from a World full of Pain, Suffering, Starvation, to a World of Eternal Love, Untold Joy where there will be No More Tears, Sadness or Sufferings.

    He is moving from a State of ignorance to a State of Complete Knowledge and Understanding of God, The Universe, Creation and the Redemption Process. (How Exciting Is That!)

    God Is Calling His Child back to Him.

    Yes family and friends will miss him Dearly that is to be expected.

    To the Family.. Love a lot.. Cry A lot.. Laugh a lot.. and of course, Live a lot.

    Lets us all Thank God for Don and his Life. Let’s Thank God for Heather and the kids, and the impact their Life has had and will have on Us and the community!

    And if someone asks where is Don ? I would say … he is on Is on an Eternal Adventure with HIS FATHER.. THE CREATOR Of EVERYTHING!


    The Lord God Almight Reign!

  22. rcj on December 5, 2007 2:21 pm

    Greetings from Jackson, MS. We wanted to let you know that your friends from Jackson and our church have not forgot about you. We continue to lift you up every time the Lord brings you and your family to our attention. May God truly bless this situation and His peace guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. R Crudup Jr.

  23. TerriCrowell on December 5, 2007 4:56 pm

    Don, Heather, Bo, Johnny & Skip –

    As your journey in this life is ending we want you all to know how much the blog and Don’s constant faith no matter how difficult the situation have overflowed into our own lives. Perhaps it was God’s plan that Don reveal so much of himself through this most difficult journey to the world to give us all faith that God is good, all the time. As we have gotten older, so many unpleasant things at the time become clear to us that God had a plan in mind and it will all become clear to us in due time.

    We all pray for you and your family all the time every day. May God keep you all in his hands.

    Jim & Terri Crowell & Aunt Margo Wahlberg

  24. Lynnee on December 5, 2007 6:20 pm

    Thank you for leading the way so eloquently on a journey all of us will go through. We will continue to pray for all the Valencias. See you on the other side! With much love.
    Lynnee & Bob

  25. Gary L. Darmstadt on December 5, 2007 10:11 pm

    Dear Don:

    I really can’t express my thanks to you and to God for the special role you have played in my life, and will continue to play as I know you will intercede for us all directly with the Father! I think back to the day at the Washington weekend, I believe in 1996, that you, Teri and I hiked down a mountain and shared life experiences. I knew then that you are a very special person with a great heart for people and the Lord. I thank you for sharing so many times together in our small group… later, dreaming of working together in India some day to bring community and healing to villages there… and more recently, as Teri and I prepare to head back to Seattle, our times together just sharing glimpses of what God was doing in our lives, Your courage and steadfast love for Jesus are a source of great great inspiration. I just can’t bear the thought of coming back to Seattle without you there, but take comfort in knowing that the connection remains thorugh Christ and that you will be experiencing in full the glimpses of heaven that you have been blessed with this past year.

    God will Bless you greatly my friend. Go in peace, knowing that you have fought a great fight and inspired us all.

    Gary Darmstadt

  26. Jim Fish on December 6, 2007 12:29 am

    Hi Valencias –

    We are so prayerfully with you – praying for God’s mercy and grace and comfort, yet never giving up on that almighty/holy (!!) miracle.

    I’ve been saddened that we cannot be with you, and God so beautifully granted that desire last night in a dream. Don, we were together and you were between heaven and earth and sharing your experiences…your love for Heather, Johnny & Bo, family & friends and your pull towards God which made you laugh and wiggle (your version of dancing on the edge!) with delight. You were so full of joy and God loved you so much that it seemed just right to let you go. I woke up thanking God for that vision of His love and wanting you so much to be with Him. Can there be a greater calling than our salvation?

    Thank you all (and Skip!) for sharing so much of your lives during the past 15 months. We are so grateful and inspired by your perseverence and faithfulness to God. “Well done good and faithful servant(s).” What a wonderful fight you all have fought for God’s glory.

    May the good Lord be with each of you now and in the coming days, giving you what you need most, and may His infinite love and peace comfort you beyond all understanding.

    We love you –
    The Fishes

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