2 am…not time. 

3 am…roll over again. 

4 am…Isabelle woke up, toss her in bed for the last hour. 

4:50…time to go! 

Isabelle rolled off our bed with more energy than appropriate for such an hour. Barking and dancing she bounced while we packed.


I love driving on freeways before 6 am! The traffic rocks!


Checked in, time to wait.


A chipper check-in girl wheels her computer in.

Remember those computer stations used to be called COW’s (Computers On Wheels). Too many people got insulted when someone yelled,

“Get those COW’s out-of-the-way for us to get through!”

Now they call them “WOW’s” (Workstations On Wheels). 

20 Questions 

Quizzing on us basic questions the chipper girl gets on my sleep-deprived nerves. We’ve lived at Riley over the last 6 months! Why do I need to give my ID and basic insurance information again? Looks from Ashley keep me from speaking my mind. 🙂 Then it strikes me,

“These annoying questions actually represent why Riley rocks.” 

You see, Riley reeks of excellence everywhere you look. They go above and beyond every time we come. Part of this excellence shows up in discipline on the basics. Like making sure they ask important questions so many times. They get the important stuff even if it feels redundant.


Two friendly nurses show up while Isabelle has decided to wet wipe her whole seat. She busily scrubs while the nurses talk. Finally, “go time” arrives.  With a kiss and many hugs, Ashley and I go as far as we can. Crying, Isabelle disappears around a corner.

Minor surgeries don’t happen to your child or spouse, only to other people. Every procedure, no matter how minor, exhaust our emotions. I try to pray with Ashley succeeding only by choking back tears.


We jump out of our seats and rush to pack our bags. The surgeon wants to meet. Hurrying up to wait we finally meet. The surgery succeeded and he replaced the port. We could see Isabelle shortly.


The nurse alerted us to walk to her room. Walking just short of a run we arrive to the sound of tears. Apparently and unusually Isabelle woke from sleep to tears in seconds. Hugs from Mommy quickly solve many problems.


We check out of surgery and into Hemocology-Oncology outpatient. Another blood draw for more labs precedes the meeting with Dr. Rahrig.


Time for chemo and book reading.


We grab lunch in the cafeteria exhausted but done with doctors.


Isabelle demonstrates her recovered energy by dancing circles around Ashley and I as we walk down the hall. She sings too.

We start to walk past the Riley “child-life-zone” and then Ashley says,

“This is the first time she’s been healthy enough to stop. Let’s do it.” 

Mighty Korie

A red-shirted volunteer welcomes us and sits to play with Isabelle. The Child Life Zone has dozens of activities and toys all geared towards kids. We quickly learn this girl named Korie attends college as a Junior in Indianapolis. She originally planned to nurse but experiences inspired her to become a Child-Life-Specialist (CLS).

CLS’s rock! They go out of their way to make children’s lives better.  Their job doesn’t bill insurance, they just get paid to love on kids and make their lives better in treatment.

Mighty Korie, our helper volunteer shared her story. Born a twin, Korie’s sister only lived 23 days. Korie herself spent weeks longer in ICU at Riley. Her parent’s stories of their experiences at Riley inspired the career choices for Korie.

We thanked Korie for playing with Isabelle and chosing an awesome career. 


With hours of driving we made it home in time to quickly pick up Christy and unpack. Then Christy and I left for “Daddy’s Night” at preschool. With songs, poems, crafts and snacks I got to enjoy the title and role of “Daddy.”

I love living as Dad to both my girls. From crying for Isabelle (and laughing with) to laughing with Christy I find fathering deeply purposeful.


It’s such a blessing to experience the many people who pray for Isabelle and ask about her. It humbles to experience the giving of many. Ashley and I live indebted to the generosity of many.


In the middle of exhaustion and busy-ness I still consider myself blessed by the stories I encounter. The people in my life blow me away and sustain Ashley and I. The perspective faith provides gives us strength through whatever comes.

God made life and life demonstrates God’s goodness through the people who fill it.



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