Tag Archives: Renee Gehman Miller

Godspeed, Renee Gehman Miller, DreamSeeker Magazine columnist and editor

In her widely read “Water Spouts and More” Kingsview & Co post on her journey with cancer (from which the “guest post” image is drawn), Renee Gehman Miller tells of her panic when young son Jonas says, “Tell me the truth, Mommy.” He was asking about the water spout; she feared he had harder truths in mind. On Thursday, January 11, 2018, the harder truth that Renee was gone arrived, and now so many mourn Renee’s absence while also remembering the treasures of her life.

Among those treasures were not only her 2015 blog post but also her many contributions to DreamSeeker Magazine, the predecessor of Kingsview & Co. She was DSM assistant editor for over six years, starting with the Autumn 2004 issue when she was a junior at Gordon College and extending to Winter 2011, when she had become an ESL teacher and was preparing to launch her new life with soon-to-be-husband Anthony and eventually Jonas. She was also “Ink Aria” columnist  from Winter 2005 on “Seeing Salt in a Different Light” to Winter 2011 on “News to Me.”

This was Renee’s very first “Ink Aria” paragraph:

If you count knowing “This Little Light of Mine” by heart, the Christian calling to be salt and light had been in my head since I was a three-year-old girl singing her favorite song on her rocking horse. After the rocking horse, flannelgraphed Sunday school lessons, church sermons, and going to private Christian school thoroughly exposed me to the metaphors of Jesus, I thought I had it all down.

And this was her final one:

Right now (and this may change) I’m feeling at peace with a smaller scale of news—news from the kids at my school who qualify for free lunches or who don’t know English very well, or who go home to babysitters every night because moms or dads work the night shift, or who have easy, happy-go-lucky lives. Crisscross-applesauce on the rug in a circle. That is news to me.

Then cancer came and after years of not writing regularly for publication, Renee’s new “publication” venue became CaringBridge, with her eloquent updates followed by many. One update became the foundation for “Water Spouts and More.” We agreed that she’d occasionally offer new blog posts, but it turned out that CaringBridge was all her energy allowed for.

Thank you, Renee, for offering us so much. How we’ll miss you. Godspeed.

Michael A. King is publisher and president, Cascadia Publishing House LLC, editor of Kingsview & Co, and former colleague of Renee Gehman Miller.

Water Spouts and More, by Renee Gehman Miller

KCGuestPost-ReneeMillerOf all the bedtime Bible stories, Jonas had picked the story of the healing of the lepers, so on a recent, unstable kind of day, I found myself reading:

“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten men were very sick. They were so sick, the doctors couldn’t make them better. They were so sick they couldn’t be with their mommies or daddies or boys and girls.”

I didn’t think he noticed a waver in my voice, but after I finished the story and we were lying in the bed, he said, “Tell me the truth, Mommy.”

I panicked a little. He was likely just trying out a new phrase he’d heard me say, but I was nervous about what was to come when I asked, “Tell you the truth about what?”

“Umm. . . .” He took a moment to fish in his mind for something he wanted to know the truth about before saying, “Um, about the water spout.”

Now I was trying not to chuckle. Of course I had no idea of what possibly could’ve brought his thoughts to “the water spout” in this moment (no, it wasn’t in his story of the 10 lepers, nor had it rained that day), but here we were.

“Well,” I said, “The truth about the water spout is that it helps catch the rain that runs down the roof so that it can all flow right down one road to the ground.”

“Oh,” he said, satisfied. “Okay.”


Thus were the pleasantries of bedtime held intact for the night, even as my thoughts lingered on the men who were so sick the doctors couldn’t seem to fix them.

Nine days before, I had received a phone call to come in for an impromptu appointment with the doctor, which is never good.

It was an appointment during which the doctor left at one point because she wanted to give me time to punch the wall if I so desired. Not because I appeared to want to, but because she was concerned about my stoicism in the face of her words and thought maybe I might find some needed cathartic relief if she left for a moment.

It was an appointment during which Anthony and I exchanged words in what ought to be considered a foreign tongue for 31-year-old people who are not certifiably insane. (Or are we?)

And just like that I was scheduled for a return to chemo, something I never thought I’d do. Lung surgery been planned for the prior Thursday was canceled, apparently not because anything changed about my lung nodules but more because of the general up-in-the-air-ness of my case.

There will be two new (to me) chemo drugs, a loathsome ten weekdays on, five weekdays off per cycle, four cycles (until right before Christmas, I think), then scans, then determine if more chemo is the way to go or not.

I have a sort of post-traumatic-stress type association with chemo. It takes up a lot of time that is precious, it destroys what’s healthy while maybe getting rid of the bad.  While I am very skeptical of its ability to do much (any) good for me, I will proceed simply because this is the door we are in a position to access at the moment. I’m not quite sure, though, how I will return to the third floor, sign in, sit in that chair, and say “yes” when they hold up that bag of poison and ask me to verify that I am the person whose name is printed on the label.

Right now if you looked at me, you’d probably have no idea anything is wrong with me. Starting chemo again feels like unveiling truths that may start to become as plain as with the water spout. The truth you can see when Mommy has to rest so much, and her hair is falling out (again), and she goes to the doctor’s almost every day, and she can’t be out in public, and her leg that hurts seems to be having such a big effect on the rest of her, too.

And I wish he could face the transition to a big-boy bed or to school before learning about cancer. I want to create a masterful façade out of it all like the father in the Italian movie, Life is Beautiful, who convinces his son that the concentration camp is all one big game for which they must wear uniforms and strive to win the most points by following the rules.

If we are going to talk about the truth, let’s please just talk water spouts.


We have disciplined ourselves to live one day at a time these past couple of years and will continue on in this way, one uncertain step at a time in an ever-changing plan. We continue to look into options for treatment, and flew halfway across the country recently to begin that process. We learned of a possibility to pursue that comes with a bigger price tag and no guarantees or refunds, but it sure sounded better than our alternatives. We still have a couple places we’d like to check out, but in the meantime, we go to chemo.

In a time when all the doors seem either closed or opened to the wrong way, we knock on Jesus’ door and say, “Tell me the truth,” and that is the happy ending to this otherwise Eeyore-esque journal entry.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

The reality, for me, in light of these truths, is that even though we have had some really bad days recently, we are still finding that in our days there is joy, and hope, and faith, and a good deal of love.

—Renee Gehman Miller, writer and editor, was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a rare bone cancer, in 2013. Kingsview & Co readers who once subscribed to the blog’s prior incarnation, DreamSeeker Magazine, will remember Miller’s lively and creative contributions to DSM as former assistant editor and columnist. Her “Ink Aria” columns can still be searched for and read at DreamSeeker Magazine online. “Water Spouts” is adapted from one of the many eloquent CaringBridge posts through which she has shared her journey since 2013.