Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Reflections from Ericlee: Moving forward after the hospital




This last week has been rough - physically and emotionally and spiritually. We have cried and poured our hearts to our Lord and Savior.

On Monday, part of the tumor started to balloon out like a volcano.  By Wednesday it was black and looking angry.  Wednesday night I woke up to go to the bathroom. When I stood up in the bathroom, blood was squirting out from the the volcano that was on my hip. Dorina and my mom were able to help me bandage it up and control the bleeding, although it continued through the night. My local doctor is on vacation this week. Through a miracle, my mom was able to get me into another doctor in the same medical group. The doctor saw me at 2 p.m. Thursday and took me into emergency surgery at 5 p.m. to stop the bleeding. Apparently, a hematoma blood clot had occurred, which caused the bleeding. The surgeon was able to open that up and stop the bleeding. I had to stay in the hospital until Monday morning when my blood count was up again.

While in the hospital, words of death were spoken over me by the surgeon and oncologist. The cancer appears to have moved to different parts of my body. Surgery is too complicated to remove it. The doctors continue to prescribe these only recently-approved drugs which have many known and unknown debilitating side effects.

The difficult question was asked of me, "At what time will you stop the nutrition and go to drugs?" That time will not come. Because you see for me to switch over now would say to my God, "I do not trust the way you have led me."



We had many friends, family and even a nurse speak life into us while we were in the hospital. This is what I still believe and trust. God created an amazing body that has more than a trillion cells in it which are constantly regrowing, rebuilding, and replacing one another. This is what Dr. Max Gerson, George Malkmus (Hallelujah Acres), and many others have figured out. My plan is to continue the Gerson Therapy with this in mind. I believe that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. When I asked Jesus into my heart, it was more than just an assurance to heaven, He actually lives in me through the Holy Spirit.

I was reminded today in my "Streams in the Desert" devotions that there are three levels of faith. The first is being able to believe only when we see some sign or have some strong emotion (Gideon). The second is being able to believe without relying on a sign or a strong emotion. Finally, the third level, believes God and his Word when circumstances, emotions, appearances, people, and human reason all point the other way. My wife and I are at the crossroads today believing for a miracle.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Reflections from Ericlee: Our journey to Stanford



On Wednesday, we traveled to Stanford to get a "second opinion" about surgery from a new doctor. Dr. Reddy was more compassionate and had many options for cancer treatment to share with us. We were impressed with his staff and the welcoming atmosphere at Stanford. The option we are focusing on now is surgery. A needle biopsy will be done on the nodule in my right lung and a brain MRI before they can carry out surgery. The large mass on my hip/groin is more complicated and will be a more risky surgery. Dr. Reddy is helping to find the best surgical team to see if this would be possible. We are praying and ask you to also pray that God will give us the PEACE that transcends all understanding if surgery should be the next step while continuing the Gerson Treatment. 



Following my appointment, the next morning I read "Streams in the Desert," which is a daily devotional written by a missionary to China. Each day God uses these words to be such an encouragement to Dorina and me. The passage that resonated with me was: "Once the Lord has give us great faith, He has been known to test it with long delays." As the Gilmores wait, I hope your prayers will persevere and your faith be encouraged as you face those "Walls of Betrayal" in your own lives. Remember that God loves you more than you can imagine and He has a plan for His Kingdom that is much better and bigger than our little minds can fathom.


I have been doing a lot of reading lately due to the fact I have to stop five times a day to do the coffee enemas required by Gerson Therapy. I have chosen some inspiring books that I have wanted to read for a long time. "First" was the first book I read.  It is written by a three-time CrossFit World Champion named Rich Froning.  He is a humble man who has a great love for fitness and testing his body.  He also has a great love for Jesus.  The second book I am still reading is "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall. 

I've been reminded that when you have a true love for something it should be invigorating and joyous every time you take part in it.  It should not be dependent on money, pride, or power.  You do it because you love it!  In both of these books I have realized that when you take away the business side of things, you are left with just the love of the game, the relationship, the hobby.  I love this idea of being really good at something.  Furthermore, I love the idea of being tested in what I think I am really good at. 

My greatest loves in life are Faith, Family, and Fitness.  There are two areas in fitness that I love:  running fast and complete fitness (strength, gymnastics, endurance).  I love coaching in these areas.  The first time I was tested in my speed was my 6th grade year at the AAU Regional Meet in the 200-meter dash.  I was fast but that day I realized I was not elite.  In 2010, I was tested again in my overall fitness, and failed miserably at the CrossFit sectional meet in San Jose.  However, these were not the true tests. 

My true test came my senior year of college. Some people call it the "wall of betrayal."  You know that point in your life where you pray with persistence for something specific and God does something else. At that point, I also began to question my faith. So the question is: when our faith is tested how will we respond?  I could either give up and walk away from my personal relationship with God or I could take it up a notch and pursue Him that much more. 

That senior year, when I had all goals laid out (to qualify for the NAIA nationals and the Olympic trials in long jump), I could not even muster a performance that was better than my junior high days.  I chose not to walk away but to press in more.  Then four years later, I hit that "wall" again.  After training full time for 2.5 years to qualify for the 2000 Olympic trials, I came up short again.  It was another test.  In life we learn to love and hate the tests because they make us better, but they are so painful.

Now I face a test I never imagined - the test of cancer at age 40.  This test had to be hard because my faith is strong.  This past year has been very difficult as I directed this non-profit in Haiti while working two other jobs.  Just like with many injustice issues, it can challenge a person's faith. But this year, God was preparing me for something more personal than challenges in Haiti.

In both of the books mentioned earlier, the authors describe how an athlete must embrace extreme pain. The athletes tackle running 100 miles or a doing back-to-back-to-back Fran workout. These athletes make friends with the pain so the next time they encounter that painful spot, he/she can better cope with it and overall be a better athlete. I am taking my cues from these athletes as I face cancer and treatment today. I am pressing in to hear God's voice.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Self Talk the Gospel: The intersection of Fear and Faith



I was standing in the middle of the community garden for a “serve day” with my daughter’s second grade class when I received the phone call. I hardly remember what my husband said but I remember I stopped breathing. Results of biopsy. Melanoma in the lymph nodes. My healthy, athletic husband had cancer. At 40.

I stood there frozen, somewhere between the corn and the kale, holding a diaper bag and several water bottles for the kids on the field trip. What should I do? Text our family? Call our life group? Cry? Sink into a heap in the dirt? Scream? Pray? Leave the kids and go to my man? My head was swirling but I was stress paralyzed. Couldn’t move. The fear started to suffocate me.

In the days that followed, my mind could only imagine the worst. I spent my days weeping, imagining myself a widow raising our three daughters on my own. I envisioned my CrossFit husband in a hospital bed, writhing in pain. Every song on the radio, every commercial, every meal was a trigger for me. My mind would race to the worst-case scenarios, my worst fears somehow coming true.

.....Jump over here to read the rest of this post...

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Reflection from Ericlee: On coaching & the Next leg of our journey



When a good coach speaks, the athletes listen! Why? Because we trust they know more than we do and they want the best for us. After meeting with Dr. Azar, M.D. and Certified Gerson Practictioner, for two hours we were hopeful and encouraged. She listened to my story and then she explained to me more specific protocol to follow. She did not downplay that what I have is serious, but rather, she encouraged us that with the right mental attitude and the right plan need to be implemented to overcome this cancer. She is now my coach!

We made Ericlee an orange "beer" aka organic carrot juice!


The training has definitely been kicked up a notch. Early bed times, juicing every hour, CrossFit (lower intensity) training, supplements, and coffee enemas. For those of you have not checked out the Gerson Therapy or the Beautiful Truth documentary, here it is in a nut shell. Due to our polluted world, including the water, air, and soil, we as humans are deficient and toxic. If the Immune system cannot keep up by killing the invaders or mutated cells, then cancer strikes. It is impossible to track because there are so many factors that go into people getting cancer now. Max Gerson discovered 60 years ago that if you take care of these two issues (deficiency and toxicity, the body will heal and repair itself. Thus, Gerson floods the body with pure nutrition (organic juicing) every hour of the day for a total of 13 times. Then 4-5 times a day the body is given a coffee enema which detoxes the body. This one-two punch has healed many patients from not only Cancer but Diabetes, Arthritis, and High blood pressure.

Ericlee's meals consist of a combination of organic vegetables and fruit. We are so grateful for all the friends who have shared Whole Foods gift cards and organic produce from their own gardens!

Dr. Azar also suggested we get a second opinion about surgery from Stanford University doctors. Join us in prayer as we wait for a call about an appointment.

While in San Diego, we stayed with dear friends Bill (right) & Treva Yaccino. They hosted a prayer night for Ericlee in their home and former pastor from The Bridge, Ed Noble, also joined us for a time of prayer!


I will leave you with this thought from one of our favorite devotionals: The Lord only builds a bridge of faith directly under the feet of a faithful traveler. He never builds the bridge a few steps ahead, for then it would not be one of faith. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says we live by faith and not by sight.

**If you are interested in learning more about how to help with tangible needs join Help for the Gilmores on Facebook. Financial gifts can be given online here.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Going for Gold: Reflections from Ericlee

 
 
We can all remember the day when we felt like life was changed forever. Good events and bad events happen that change us. I am talking about in all realms - physical, spiritual, emotional, relational, and mental. In 1982 as a 8-yr-old my... life changed as I witnessed the extreme poverty in Haiti for the first time. In 1988, as a 14-yr-old my life changed as I stood up in the midst of a huge crowd of teenagers at Hume Lake Camp and committed my life to follow Jesus wherever he told me to go. In 2003, my life changed as I said "I Do" and married Dorina after waiting patiently for 29 years. In 2006, my life changed again as I witnessed the miracle of childbirth and became a Daddy for the first time. In 2007, my life changed again as my family and I embarked on the uphill battle of trying to eat clean, unprocessed, organic, in-season food. In 2009, as a 35-yr-old, my life changed as I was let go from a job I greatly loved as a teacher and coach at Fresno Christian School. In addition, that same year my life changed as I stumbled upon CrossFit! Finally, in 2011 my life changed as we put up our house for sale, and moved to Haiti for 3 months so I could have a crash course lesson on how to direct a 65-yr-old ministry and a non-profit.

So once again my life is drastically changed as one month ago I was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma cancer. It is now an all out war with these cells that have mutated in my body and gone awry.

On Wednesday, we had an appointment to see Dr. Algazi at UCSF. He surprised us and recommended no surgery and no radiation since the cancer has already spread to multiple places. As a leading expert in melananoma, his recommendation is to start using a combination of two potent drugs followed by "immune therapy." The first drug has had a 50% success rate with patients, the second a 20% success rate in decreasing tumors. There are serious possible side effects, including blindness, heart failure, other auto-immune diseases and possible spreading of the cancer, to name a few. I would have to take these drugs for many years. The doctor was kind enough to say that the choice was mine and to let him know in a couple of days what direction I want to go. On a side note, these drugs are not cheap ($16,000 a month for one set and $120,000 for the other set).

From 1998-2000, I took a break from teaching and trained 100% in hopes of making the Olympic games in track & field. I had a strict training program that included specific nutrition and sleep. (I wish I had all my knowledge from CrossFit then). I did not make it to the Olympics, but I can never say "what if." 

Now I am in strict training again for a "gold medal" in wellness as I battle this cancer. I do not feel peace about taking the drugs recommended by UCSF. I have decided to commit to Gerson Therapy for at least two years as my method of treatment. My diet and sleep are very specific and I must follow the therapy exactly. So today we leave for San Diego to see Dr. Azar who is an M.D who is a also certified in Gerson Therapy. She will help us navigate some things in the therapy and make it specific for fighting my cancer.

I will leave you with this. No matter what, I want my Lord to be glorified in it all. It is not about the carrots, the coffee enemas, or any drugs for that matter. God is the Great Healer and I will trust in Him for His will. Whether training hard for a Crossfit competition, battling injustice in Haiti or fighting cancer, I will give it my very best with the tools that God has given me to ultimately give Him Glory.
 
**If you want to learn about more ways to join Ericlee in his fight against cancer, join the Facebook group "Help for the Gilmores." Donations for medical bills and needs can be given online here.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

UPDATE: Results of Ericlee's PET scan






Dear Friends & Family,

Three weeks ago we first received the diagnosis that Ericlee has melanoma cancer in his lymph node at the right hip/groin. Through a good friend, we connected with a local oncologist, Dr. Liu, who works for UCSF in Fresno. He ordered a full-body PET scan for Ericlee this past week. We received the results on Wednesday, revealing that Ericlee’s cancer is not just in the right groin but there’s another mass above that in the iliac crest and a small nodule on his right lung. Dr. Liu said that the cancer is in Stage 4. This was devastating news for our family but we trust that even this was not a surprise to God and He holds us in His hands today.



This week we had the gift of going up to the mountains as a family. We are grateful for generous friends who opened their getaway home to us so we could enjoy some time with our dear missionary friends, Jeremy and Marcy Pusey and their kids, who just arrived Monday from Germany. We have been planning this getaway for several months as a chance to catch up with them and all of us to enjoy some margin from the high demands of our ministries. As God would have it, we were still able to go on this retreat. We enjoyed a time of resting, playing games, hiking to a waterfall, quiet mornings for journaling and reading God’s Word.



Although our cell service was spotty up in North Fork, we did drive down the mountain a bit to call the doctor and hear the results. We realized how perfect this timing was as we were able to process this hard news as a family. We have shared the news all along with our girls. We know they do not have a full understanding the circumstances, but we pray God will usher them along this new territory. They pray for Daddy multiple times a day and provide us a model of hope. We are deeply touched by the frequent prayers of our 2-year-old Zayla, who will go put her hand on the mass on her Dad, close her eyes and pray “for Daddy’s leg.” We are moved by the inquisitiveness of our 5-year-old Giada who wonders, “How will they cut that big bump off your leg?” and “When will all the good nutrients kill the bad guys inside you, Daddy?” Our 8-year-old Meilani is quieter these days, expressing her heart in drawings and paintings. We know we each process differently, and this is her way.

Ericlee’s appointment at UCSF is still set for this coming Wednesday, June 25. We appreciate your prayers as we travel to San Francisco and hopefully go into surgery right away to remove the mass. Ericlee will also be consulting with a doctor in San Diego, who is Gerson-certified, and offers advice specific to his case and needs. Ericlee feels 100% confident that we should continue the Gerson Therapy, which has had high success at healing melanoma cancer naturally. We do not believe that it is an accident he has been studying this method for several years. He has always believed that God created nutrition to heal the body of disease.  Ericlee will not do radiation or chemotherapy after surgery. We ask you to support us in this decision and ultimately honor Ericlee on the journey.

We are convinced that God is right here beside us during this trial. As we strolled through the mountains this week with our girls, we saw the intricacy of butterfly wings, majestic trees pointing toward heaven, rushing waterfalls speaking of His glory and power. He shows us His tender care as we read our Streams in the Desert devotional, and each day seems written just for us. He reminds us of His personal love as we open our mailbox brimming with encouragement cards, heartfelt letters and packages from friends like you. He shows His provision as so many have donated toward our medical bills and gifted us with organic produce for the juicing. Ericlee is filled with His peace that passes understanding. We pray this for each of you as well.

We have been steeping ourselves in this beautiful and challenging song by Shane & Shane with an excerpt from John Piper. (Click HERE to hear it for yourself!) The song reminds us that no trial we face – no matter how difficult - is meaningless. This is our hearts’ cry today: “Though you slay me, still I will praise you.”

For His Glory,
Ericlee, Dorina, Meilani, Giada and Zayla

Ways you can Help:
-Give toward our growing medical bills through Paypal or personal checks.
-Join our “Help for the Gilmores” facebook group for tangible needs.
-Send cards of encouragement to Ericlee Gilmore, 4711 N. Harrison, Fresno, CA 93704.
-Pray, pray, pray!!!

Monday, June 09, 2014

June 2014 - Gilmore Gazette - URGENT PRAYER REQUEST for Ericlee




Dear Friends & Family,

As many of you may have heard, we received the news 10 days ago that Ericlee has melanoma cancer on his lymph nodes near his right hip flexor. This has been a difficult week for our family as we have tried to process this news and continue to wait for a consultation with specialists at the Melanoma Center at UCSF. The earliest appointment they have available is June 25.

The History

Ericlee first noticed a long black and blue mark on the inside of his right thigh back in February. He dismissed it as a bruise from a workout. At the end of February, a bump/small nodule started to form at the top of that mark near his hip flexor. He had a friend who is a physical therapist check it out, thinking it might be a torn muscle. However, he never felt any pain or loss of any strength in that area. During this time, Ericlee was training for a half marathon. Throughout March, he also was competing over five weeks in the worldwide CrossFit Open Competition.

On March 16, he ran the California Classic Half Marathon with our friend Steve Ganzenhuber. He still felt no pain but following the advice of our chiropractor/holistic doctor Ericlee made an appointment with our family practitioner. The first appointment available was April 23. In the meantime, he had another physical therapist take a look, and he said he had never seen anything like it before. He was surprised that Ericlee experienced no pain given the size of the bump.
Ericlee traveled to Haiti with a Construction team April 11-19. During that time, he experienced the first strange pain in that area. Upon return, Ericlee met with the practitioner who ordered an ultrasound. Nothing showed up in the ultrasound. Ericlee participated in the Wildflower Half Ironman Triathlon on May 3 to celebrate his 40th birthday. (Yes, this man is crazy!)

The following week on May 14 he had an MRI done. That revealed a torn labrum muscle in his hip and a swollen lymph node where the bump was growing. Those were two separate things. The doctor arranged for a biopsy on May 26. Results from that biopsy came to us last Friday, May 30, indicating he had melanoma. He had a small spot of melanoma removed two years ago on the outside of the calf. It appears it may have traveled up the same leg to the lymph nodes but we can’t be sure at this point.



What’s next?

We are waiting for the June 25 appointment. We have been encouraged to call UCSF daily to check on cancellations. We have several friends who are using their connections and knowledge to help us explore some other options as well. In the meantime, we have decided to follow the Gerson Therapy for curing cancer using nutrition. As God would have it, Ericlee has researched this therapy in depth over the last four years and has even taught about it in his Nutrition classes at Fresno Pacific University and DeVry University. The therapy includes drinking 13 glasses of organic fresh-pressed juice daily, a vegan diet and coffee enemas. This method is carefully designed to pump the body with maximum nutrients and to rid it of any toxins. (See Gerson Institute online or The Beautiful Truth documentary if you’re interested in more details.)

How you can help

We have already been humbled and overwhelmed by the rally of love and support from our community of friends and family in the last week. We consider the most powerful help you can offer is your prayers. Please pray with us for a timely appointment with UCSF, the right doctors for Ericlee’s case and discernment for our family as we make decisions about the future. Our most pressing need is for help with medical bills. We have a $10,000 deductible through MediShare. The biopsy alone cost $5,000. If you are interested in other tangible ways you can help, our friend Cori Schmidt set up a Facebook group called “Help for the Gilmores,” which anyone can request to join.



Our future & summer in Haiti

As you can imagine, the future feels scary and uncertain at this point. After several days of praying and weighing the factors we do not feel a peace about our usual travels to Haiti this summer. We considered going for a short time but the appointment falls two days after our scheduled departure. More than this timing, we are concerned that we will not be able to maintain the Gerson diet in Haiti and we risk exposing Ericlee to other more serious diseases when his immunity is already compromised.

It’s hard for our family to fathom not going to Haiti this year when it has been such a part of our mission and summer routine for the last six years. The good news is we have board members and friends we trust are well-equipped to lead the five teams scheduled to travel to Haiti this summer without us.

We have heard many people question: How could something like this happen to Ericlee? He’s so healthy, so fit, such a good guy, works so hard, sacrifices so much for Haiti, etc. etc. We want to underscore that we do not believe in that theology. We do not believe that just because you are “good,” “hard-working,” “healthy,” or even “doing good in the world” then you will be exempt from trials. In fact, the Bible gives example after example that we will ALL face trials. Every trial is an opportunity to reflect the God we trust, who holds the future and loves us deeply. This year we have been memorizing the book of James with our kids. We leave you with these challenging words from James 1:2-3:

Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you can be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.

For His Glory,
Dorina & Ericlee
Meilani, Giada & Zayla

Mailing address: 4711 N. Harrison, Fresno, CA 93704

Monday, May 26, 2014

Spring 2014 - Gilmore Gazette - Transitioning to a New Season




Dear Friends & Family,

This letter is long overdue. As life is full it’s hard to find time to pause for reflection and storytelling. We are eager to share with you some of the highlights of our last few months.

Over Spring Break, Ericlee traveled to Haiti with a group of men from Fresno to construct a playground in Pignon, Haiti. Our friend and board member, Tanner Munro, led the team of eight. We have been working on fundraising over the last three years for the Playground Project. This is one phase of helping improve the school there in Pignon as well as providing a place for the children in the orphanage to play. The team had an incredible time of bonding with each other and with the young Haitian men who worked with them daily. Ericlee was so moved by the joy and excitement of the children when they finally got to try out the slide, the swings and the pull-up bars. We are truly grateful for all the friends who have been a part of this project through fundraising, participating in the Remember Haiti Fitness series and those traveling to Haiti in April.



Ericlee celebrated his 40th birthday on April 2. To celebrate a vibrant 40 years of life, Ericlee decided to return to an athletic event he did 17 years ago. He trained for months and participated in the Wildflower Triathlon on May 3, swimming 1.2 miles, biking 56 miles and running a half marathon. Our whole family, including his mom Christene, traveled to Lake Nacimiento (near Paso Robles) to cheer him on. The course was brutal but he survived!  He finished in just over 7 hours.


On May 17, our Remember Haiti Cycling Team rode the California Classic. Ericlee was joined by Sarah White, Matthew Tuttle and six students from the Fresno Christian School’s Cycling Club who all rode to raise money and awareness about Christian Friendship Ministries and the needs in Haiti. We were excited about a new partnership with the Forward Advantage Foundation led by Brian Boudreau. Their team also sported our CFM logo on their jerseys. They matched dollar for dollar what was raised.



This time of year our mailbox fills with invitations for graduations, birthday parties, weddings. Our Facebook newsfeed crowds with photos from proms, end-of-school-year award programs, and celebration brunches. May also speaks of a closing season. May hints at the summer days to come. May is often a month of transition. This month Dorina finished her first course teaching Children’s Literature at California State University, Fresno. She was energized by this time back in the classroom, sharing some of her favorite children’s and young adult literature with “teachers in training.” The university has asked her to teach this same class again in the fall.

At the end of this month, we will also be hosting a Strategic Planning weekend with our board of directors for Christian Friendship Ministries here in Fresno with Peter Constantin coming to visit from Haiti to participate. Please join us in praying for vision, direction, inspiration and unity during this important time of planning and seeking God’s will for this non-profit.



Ericlee has chosen not to return to Fresno Christian Schools in the fall so he can focus more energy on the non-profit. We are grateful for God’s financial provision this past semester but we also realized he cannot maintain two full-time jobs long-term. This means another time of transition for us in our lifestyle and finances. We cling to these words: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?... But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” --Matthew 6:25-33.

Meilani turns 8 on May 28. It’s hard to believe our oldest will be finishing up second grade this next month! She has really thrived at Kepler Neighborhood School where their mission is “serving to learn and learning to serve.” We are grateful for the opportunity to transfer her there in January and join a community of wonderful families. She’s excited about her first performance in the school musical this week. Giada is finishing out two years of preschool with our Harvard Preschool Co-op group and will be starting kindergarten at Kepler in the fall. Our baby-girl Zayla is as joyful and daring as ever. She is starting to string words together into sentences, and she’s mastered the 2-year-old favorite refrain – “NO!”

Every summer our family heads to Haiti. This summer is no exception. We must say goodbye to our California friends and family on June 23. Yet, we have the unique opportunity to return to a place we also have built relationships.  The girls look forward to their summer days – carefree and unbound by schedules – to jump rope and dig in the dirt with their Haitian friends from the orphanage next to our home in Pignon. We ask for your prayers over these next several weeks as we prepare our hearts and our suitcases for Haiti. This year we will host 6 different teams from Fresno traveling to work in Haiti. Our teams include a group from The Bridge Church helping host a retreat for the Haitian Bead Project, a medical team from Trinity Community Church, a team teaching Oceanography and taking the kids in the St. Raphael orphanage hiking and to the ocean, a team from The Well Church helping with a Vacation Bible School program in Fontaine, our friend Chris Schultz traveling with his daughter and speaking at the Men’s Retreat, and finally, a group of board members and donors who will come in early August to encourage leaders and visit different parts of the ministry.

We suspect this month brings transition for your families in some way. We pray for you as you navigate this time of change and anticipate a new season. We encourage you to carve out time for yourself and your family to adjust. Plan some down time to reminisce about the past season, to celebrate the highlights of the school year or that job you are leaving or even the relationships built. We join you on the journey! We would love to hear about what God is doing in you.

Embracing the Change together,

Dorina & Ericlee
Meilani, Giada & Zayla
 

Would you consider a one-time donation as we pay our bills and save money for our next travels to Haiti? Follow our summer adventures on Facebook  with pictures and stories at Remember Haiti: www.AlohaGilmores.blogspot.com


Prayer requests:

**Please pray for financial provision for our family as Ericlee returns to full-time work directing Christian Friendship Ministries this year.

**Please pray for Ericlee’s leg. We recently discovered he has a torn lebrum muscle and a mass in his leg. He will go in for a biopsy this Friday. We are trusting God healing as Ericlee deals with a lot of pain right now.

**Please pray for the final details of selling our Alamos house. We are in escrow for the second time and are slated to close on the house before we depart for Haiti. We are excited about the opportunity to pay off our debts through the sale of this home.

**Please pray the Strategic Planning Weekend in Fresno on May 30-31. We will meet with our board of directors and Haitian Director Peter Constantin to cast vision for the future of the non-profit.

**Please pray over the travels of our six groups traveling to Haiti this summer to serve with Christian Friendship Ministries.

Monday, May 12, 2014

a thanksgiving psalm



*I just finished a year of walking through the Psalms with a group of friends from all walks of life. We studied 5 Psalms a week, writing reflections on each and digging in deeper for select Psalms. I was so touched and challenged by the raw, honest, reflective, rejoicing, questioning, praising voice of David and the other writers of the Psalms. At the close of our journey, our leader Serena Isaak asked each of us to write our own Psalm and share it with the group. The following is my "Thanksgiving Psalm."

 

I give thanks, Father, for the way you hold me,
I offer thanks, Jesus, for the way you know me
I lift thanks, Holy Spirit, for the way you inspire me
I lay down thanks, Savior, for the way you
died for me.

You gift me joy in each sunrise
soaring from the darkness,
Joy abounding in little-girl giggles,
Joy blooming out of life’s hard soil,
Sweet joy rising from the ashes.

Your grace covers my imperfections, my fears, my frailties
Your mercy seeps into my thirsty margins,
Your grace binds my gaping wounds,
Your grace and mercy bless me,
inviting me to bless others.

I see your glory in the ribbons of color
chasing into the night sky.
I taste your glory in the sweet of a strawberry
dipping into a chocolate bath.
I hear your glory in the notes of a symphony
blending instrument voices into one.
I touch your glory in this baby-soft face
surrendering into deep sleep.

You whisper your glory to me in
these miracle-gifts -
grace
mercy
joy
And I am filled with
a song of thanksgiving.


Tuesday, March 04, 2014

January-February Gilmore Gazette: Seeking justice in our hearts & ministry

Ericlee hangs out with some of the kids in the Kay Cadence orphanage in St. Raphael. These boys captured his heart!
Dear Friends & Family,

We are excited to share with you some of what God has been doing and teaching us over the last few months. In January, Ericlee accompanied a team of friends to Haiti to install a water system at the Cadence House orphanage in St. Raphael using money raised last summer by the kids at Trinity Community Church in Fresno. Richard and Gina Wathen, their daughter Chessa, Tom and Debbi Owen and Scott Drake were a part of that team. While the men were working alongside our Haitian partners to put in the water system, the ladies put on a Music Camp for the children in the orphanage. The children were thrilled to begin lessons in keyboard, ukulele and recorder. Ericlee also spent time showing Pastor Gordon Hall from River Valley Church in Fresno different parts of Christian Friendship Ministries. They checked in on the construction of the fitness gym in Pignon and connected with the men who will be the coaches/trainers. Ericlee is so thrilled to see how God is unfolding one of his personal dreams to bring a love for fitness to friends in Haiti and use this as a platform for sharing Christ with the younger generation.

The men help complete the water project in St. Raphael, bringing running water to the orphanage.

This semester Dorina is teaching a Children’s Literature class on Monday afternoons at California State University, Fresno. This opportunity has rekindled her love for teaching and proved a “life giving” job (that doesn’t require a lot of time) to help pay off some of our debt. In February, Dorina had the chance to attend the “IF: Gathering” in Fresno. This was an important time of worship, rest and rejuvenation for her as she continues to seek God’s discernment for her work leading The Haitian Bead Project. Perhaps one of the most encouraging messages was from speaker Ann Voskamp: “Redefine comfort zone because wherever you are is with the Comforter.” As Dorina is daily called out of her comfort zone to lead this business venture and work with women in Haiti who are broken and struggling to survive it is encouraging to know God is our Comforter in all circumstances at all times!

As a couple, we were invited to attend the Justice Conference last weekend in Los Angeles. This amazing conference brought together Christian speakers, students, artists and activists from around the globe who have a shared concern for the vulnerable and oppressed. We were blessed to attend the workshops and also dialogue about the justice work God has called us to in Haiti. One of the most impactful speakers was author and founder of the conference Ken Wytsma. He challenged us to think about justice not just as a fad for our generation but as imperative to knowing the God of the Bible. We ask ourselves: why do we do what we do in Haiti? Through this conference, we learned that our work is to defend the “poor and needy” and know God more in that restorative work so we can identify our own poverty and set it right.

Ericlee and Dorina pose at the Valentine Couples Challenge on February 15 sporting the "Is Your Fitness Making a Difference?" fundraiser T-shirts. The Gilmores took first place in the scaled division of the couples' competition.

On February 15, Ericlee hosted our 4th annual Valentine Couples Challenge at the CrossFit Combat Fitness gym. Eighteen couples competed to see who was the fittest and raise funds for Haiti. In March, Ericlee will be begin training for the 3rd Annual Remember Haiti Cycling Team to ride the California Classic. If you or someone you know might want to join him to “pedal with a purpose,” we would love to add more members to this team. It’s a great way to get in shape, build community and raise awareness and funds for Haiti. Details on Facebook at “3rd Annual Remember Haiti Cycling Team Ride.” Please continue to join us in prayer for God’s direction as we lead Christian Friendship Ministries and The Haitian Bead Project. We could use specific prayers over our finances as our support was low in January and February. We also just received 30-day notice from our renters at the house we own on Alamos Street, and we are putting that house back up on the market to sell. Praying for just the right buyer in God’s timing!

Wrapped in His Grace, Ericlee, Dorina, Meilani, Giada & Zayla

Would you consider a one-time donation as we pay our bills and save money for our next travels to Haiti?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

November-December Gilmore Gazette: Merry Day after Christ-mas & Happy New Year!




Dear Friends & Family,

We waited until today to send out our newsletter because we wanted to give you time. We wanted to give ourselves a little margin this month. November and December are always full, full, full as we struggle to balance our own family traditions and celebrations with the biggest season for selling The Haitian Bead Project jewelry and also for connecting with partners for Christian Friendship Ministries.


In November, we took a short trip to Haiti with three friends: Nancy Willey, her granddaughter, Zoe Casperite, and Regina Gleaves. Our focus for this trip was to work on some new products with the artisans in The Haitian Bead Project and to spend time with the children in the orphanages. The trip was truly brimming with blessings. Some of the highlights included: listening to the women lift their voices to heaven during our devotional times with them, a Movie/Game Night we had with the orphanage kids even when the power went out, when our friend Dartiquenov would come to the house to tell stories about Grandma and Grandpa Bell, Ericlee train the new coaches for the athletic gym we’re building in Pignon and Regina meeting the little girl her family is hoping to adopt.



After our trip, we flew home and a swirl of activity began for the holidays. Dorina and the Bead Project were a part of 10 holiday events in the last two months. Ericlee hosted the 4th Annual Haiti Decathlon with 75 competitors, raising more than $5,000 at CrossFit Combat Fitness gym. Our Zayla turned two on November 19, and we slipped a little birthday party in there with a monkey theme.



One fun addition this December was a little project we did with our girls. Each year we have allowed them to choose a gift from the World Vision catalog to give to a family or child in need somewhere in the world. This year the girls wanted to get involved with raising the money. They put their heads together with Nana Maria and did a cookies fundraiser. We hoped to raise $60 and sell about 12 dozen cookies. In the end, they filled orders for 56 dozen Italian pizzelle cookies and were able to buy a goat and chickens through World Vision. Admittedly, it was hard work but such an amazing lesson for Meilani and Giada to see how God does immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine especially when we choose to BE the gift to someone else!



This Christmas we had the special gift of celebrating in Fresno with Dorina’s whole family (parents, sister and kids from Seattle, brother and family from Los Angeles) and Ericlee’s parents. It’s been chaotic, loud and fun to stay (and eat!) all together. We have loved making memories and upholding traditions like attending Meilani’s winter program at school, walking Christmas Tree Lane, caroling and delivering treats with our life group, performing our own version of the Christmas story on Christmas Eve, making homemade ravioli with the family for Christmas Day, blowing out candles and singing Happy Birthday to Jesus and much more to come.



Next week we are headed to San Diego for some much-needed respite with our kids. We skipped presents this year and instead found a great deal to take them to Legoland/Sea Life Aquarium. Some dear friends are allowing us to “house sit” for them so our lodging is free! Please pray for us to have some true rest and quality family time next week before we launch into a new year of ministry.

We leave you with this reflection: It’s the Day after Christmas that we all really have to choose to open The gift. When scraps of wrapping paper litter the floor, the branches of the tree droop a little, the thrill of the kids first opening their gifts has worn off;  when you wake up scratchy-throat tired and you find yourself digging through the refrigerator for leftovers and staring down the bills, that’s when you really have to decide. That’s the moment of truth when you have to choose to believe in the Greatest Gift of Christmas. Otherwise, it all just passes quickly into a new year. The excitement of Christmas fades. There is no fulfillment after the pomp and circumstance unless you choose to call Christ your King.

We wish each one of you a meaningful Christmas and a blessed New Year! We are grateful for your continued prayers and support as we serve in Haiti and in Fresno.

Wrapped in His Grace,

Ericlee, Dorina, Meilani, Giada and Zayla

Friday, December 20, 2013

Birthing a Savior in the Beautiful Mess

Let’s be honest: Christmas is hard work for mamas. There’s cleaning and baking and wrapping. There are family photos to arrange, cards to write, school and church programs to attend, those elf and Santa traditions to keep straight. There’s the organizing, the crafting, the hiding of gifts and dressing of trees. Not to mention all the awkward family dynamics, the carting of kids from one house to the next, the sugar highs and then crashes.

In the midst of all that work, where does a mama meet the Savior? Where can we possibly find a silent night for just meditating on His birth?



I don’t know about you but sometimes I find myself just waiting for “that perfect moment.” I dream about the house being clean and quiet. I fantasize about our family sitting on the couch blissfully reading an Advent devotional before the twinkling lights of our tree. I long for that perfect Christmas moment to meet God. 

The reality is that “perfect” moment may never come for busy mamas of preschool and elementary-aged kids. I was reminded today that Mary didn’t have “that perfect moment” either.
I am sure that the mother of God had some plans and dreams forming in heart before she birthed the Son. I imagine as she and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem that she fantasized about the ideal place to birth that baby. Maybe she even prayed in her spirit for God to provide the perfect place for birthing with a comfortable bed, the right music and the best midwife to help her along.
She had none of these.
A stinky, loud, cold stable. A bed of straw. Her legs spread out before the world. That was the God-chosen perfect moment for birthing the God-child. It’s pretty miraculous to think about. Jesus, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, the Almighty, the Light of the world, was born in a messy stable. 
 
A beautiful, messy stable.
And that stable, that manger where He laid His holy head, has become a symbol of Christmas, a picture of peace. It’s ironic. Ann Voskamp says, “Simplicity is a matter of focus, not circumstances.”
This Christmas as you are facing your mile-long to-do list, your family drama, I urge you to press in face-to-face with the Savior. I invite you to unwrap the simple, yet most profound gift of the season. The baby. Hold him close. Rock him in your mama heart.

Even as the holiday mess swirls around you, seek Him.
**The above is re-posted from The Bridge MOPS Blog, where I share stories and encouragement for mothers twice a month.