Friday, May 30, 2008

Agony, Fear, Hope, Peace

This video may be the most gripping video you have ever seen. Renee shares her fear, her dread of the diagnosis of leukemia, with symbolic, dramatic shots of what it may mean. Her feet, dedicated to sharing the gospel of peace are showing signs of infection, her bed - empty - a prophesy of what she knows is coming, her calendar - a month late, a month since she felt she knew what the diagnosis was, a symbol of how time on earth is slipping away, her calendar has stopped. The video ends with a shot of the tattoo on her ankle, the symbol of the word hope in the language of Cambodia, the people who experienced the Killing Fields. Renee had the hope of eternal life, and hope that others would respond to her passion for the poor and oppressed, and pick up where she left off. The hope that someday she would be re-united for eternity with all her friends and family in the presence of Jesus Christ, the One she loved, and lived for.

After 3 months of agonizing about whether or not to post this video, I have come to the conclusion that Renee recorded it, because she wanted to share her feelings with us. She also wanted to say something about the hope she had. In spite of the fear she says she has hope. She knew she had a 20% chance of surviving this relapse of leukemia, 80% chance that this would be her last statement to us. If you need a good cry, click Here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Renee on Photogenic

Renee's commentary on Photogenic, a movie script she wrote, starred in, and helped produce with Director Katie Loewen. Kara served as an extra, during her visit with Renee in 2007. Click on the title to see Photogenic, the video.


They took away my Executive Assistant, fired my bookkeeper/accountant, took away my R&D team, my marketing team, cramed all my files into a few boxes and kicked me out of my office, took away my patents, erased my name from the website, took 1/2 the business from Morris, deleted my links from the web, promised to send me the links, still waiting, I get nothing done.
They tied up my time when I should have been paying close attention to Renee, so I didn't, and so she died. I miss her so. I closed her bank accounts. Gave away her car, her clothes, her boots, her computer, her camera, her ... OH THE PAIN
I feel like I've been hit with a baseball bat, my brains are splattered, my arms and legs ripped off with a hack saw, my guts, mushed.
I am making copies of the DVD Karalee edited. But who even wants one? Not many requests. Will anyone watch them?
I get nothing useful done. I had a meeting with the leadership team in Morris. We need to shift team members from BMS to bins. We need to retrain. It will take a while to get everything up and running again.
I need to make decisions about cows. Had 240 last spring. Now 100? They died. The vet was never called. Hay quality was never checked. I was never called till the Animal Health officer called to yell at me. The cows starved to death. On all the hay they could eat. Bad hay I assume. The hay supplier says it was good. Wants to get paid a premium price. The trucker charged an arm and a leg to haul it. Can't decide how much to pay either one. I need to move the cows. Sell them. Keep them till fall. Don't know which or where. My decision maker has been blasted to smithereens.
Can't remember a thing from one minute to the next. Forgot the guy that wanted to see the motorhome. Forgot to email people. Forgot to meet for breakfast. Forget to return calls.
My computer from the office is dead. No one will help me with that. From legions of people at my beck and call - now people don't even return phone calls. Shit.
My emails inbox blew up. I lost a bunch of emails. They are on the laptop. But it's a mess to import all those to this computer. My former computer tech is not allowed to talk to me.
I'm not supposed to complain 'cause that would make my former partners look bad. I'm supposed to change the company logo. Takes useless time. I need to find a new shop to do R&D, hire people to work in it, find people to go to the marketplace to find out what needs to be invented.
Monday I tried to find some eggs for breakfast. Even the 24 hr Wal-Mart was closed! Finally found some expensive eggs at 7-11. I never go there. Met a friend there who happened to be visiting his daughter in Winnipeg. He had come to Wpg for the weekend and bought a paper at 7-11. We got to talking. He said he'd pray for us. He has a brother who lost his son in a snorkling accident years ago. Took the father 3 years to get life back to almost normal. No wonder we still feel like pulp! 3 months after.
So nice to have friends come over to visit. What a comfort friends are. Sunday night, Renee's friend, Lynn came over. Wow! How nice to be able to spend time with her. To feel close to Renee through her. Next week Krista and Monique are coming. We sure look forward to that. Today Janice came for supper. Fellowship. Sharing, renewing.
Next week we have several other friends who have indicated that they would like to come visit. Sure look forward to that. Sitting at home feeling miserable is no fun. We need the distractions wherever we can get them.
I doubt anyone will read this far, but if you have, you are a friend indeed, and we'd like to cook a meal for you. Please come ASAP. Thanks.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Renee in the Reader's Digest

A Beautiful Little Girl

WE OPENED our mailbag not long ago to find a letter from longtime subscriber Raymond Dueck of Arborg, Man. "Thank God for Reader's Digest!" Mr. Dueck wrote. "It saved our little daughter's life."
In our January 1984 issue, in "News From the World of Medicine," we carried an item about a new treatment for Severe Combined Immune Deficiency Syndrome (SCIDS), a rare and lethal immune-system disease that leaves its victims unable to resist infection. Infants who have SCIDS and are not kept in sterile environments usually die within the first year of life. The item reported that Dr. Richard O'Reilly and his team at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York had developed a procedure that led to successful transplantation of bone marrow from an unmatched donor. (Bone marrow manufactures cells essential to the immune system.)
"My wife, Martha, and I had had two children who died of complications related to SCIDS," Mr. Dueck wrote. "When Martha became pregnant a third time, we read every article we could regarding SCIDS. Then the January 1984 issue of the Digest brought us the welcome news about the bone-mar-row transplant, and our anxiety level went way down.
"Renee was born in March, and shortly after her birth we were told that she too had SCIDS. We had already decided that in the eventuality of that diagnosis, we would go to the New York centre. We flew to New York in May for further tests. When those confirmed SCIDS, we arranged to admit Renee in June 1984.
"During the night of July 26-27 she received bone marrow donated by her mother.
"Today Renee is the healthiest, liveliest, most beautiful little girl anyone ever saw!"
A beloved child's health has been restored. And we at Reader's Digest are gratified to have been of service.
We know from this and many other letters that our articles often have an impact on your lives in a variety of ways - that you have found in them the resolve to quit smoking, the inspiration to make it through a family crisis, the chance to get involved in an issue of the day. Whenever we have been useful to you, we are delighted to hear about it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Renee in Singapore with the Snake

Why don't you come over to the dark side

Third Sunday in Lent

Pain and suffering are part and parcel of our planet, and Christians are not exempt.
-Philip Yancey

ONE OF THE MAIN QUESTIONS PEOPLE ASK me about prayer is why every prayer is not answered. That seems to fly in the face of what Jesus says and does. And this is one of the Lenten surrenders we can make. We can work to surrender our doubts about prayer.

Consistently, we associate Jesus with answered prayers. Jesus' teachings on prayer are straightforward and simple: "Ask and you shall receive; knock and it shall be opened to you." Jesus wants us to have a kind of sublime confidence. He often says that healings are more likely when people's faith is strong. Jesus makes us feel that God is always listening.

This confidence is especially keen before the raising of Lazarus. Jesus says, "Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me." Lazarus has not yet been raised, but Jesus already knows that his prayer has been heard and answered. And Jesus wants us to know that the Father's generous response is not just for him, but also for us.

At the same time the Scriptures caution us against overconfidence in prayer. When Jesus struggles with Satan in the wilderness, Satan taunts Jesus into using prayer as a kind of magic bullet. He seems to want to distort Jesus' intimacy with God. "If your God is so terrific, and you're so close to him, why don't you just turn a few stones into bread? Why don't you jump off a high place and see if he'll save you? Why don't you come over to the dark side, where it's so much more fun?"

And Jesus replies that we should not test the Lord our God.

One of the deepest surrenders we are called to make (I'd hardly call it small) is when we must accept the death of someone we love.

Lieutenant Colonel Ken Brown, a chaplain with the United States Army 101st Airborne Division, serving in Iraq, has some insights on this theme. He wrote an entry in his war diary on April 9, 2003. He was commenting on soldiers who come face-to-face with death for the first time, when they see their comrades wounded or killed.

Some of these soldiers came to Chaplain Brown to talk about death.

"I had a young man come to me a couple of weeks ago . . . he talked to me about, if he had just been a couple of seconds sooner at a certain location, he could probably have prevented this or that." Soldiers feel guilty, Chaplain Brown says, because they didn't or couldn't prevent a buddy from dying. They feel guilty that they are still alive.

When soldiers actually see death, Brown says, their priorities change. He doesn't try to tell them that all this can be so easily explained. In the same way I think all of us feel a real anxiety about the things we can't seem to prevent through our prayer.

But Chaplain Brown tells his soldiers about a philosopher named Boethius, from the fourth century, who made a famous remark. When we come up against an evil, when God doesn't seem to be in charge, God is writing straight with crooked lines.

How do we reconcile this with the statement of Jesus, "I know, Father, that you always hear me"?

Jesus tells us to believe in a God of enormous power who surrounds us with his love. But sometimes it seems to us that this all-powerful God is not listening, is not responsive to our prayers. What then?

This experience-of sustained, unanswered prayer-is well known in the spiritual life. Sometimes it is called darkness. Sometimes it is called aridity, or dryness in prayer. It comes when we're not sure God is listening, when we think God doesn't care about us, when the outcomes we want are not forthcoming. This is a great test of faith.

The path leads both to the raising of Lazarus and to the Garden of Gethsemane. As Philip Yancey writes, "Pain and suffering are part and parcel of our planet, and Christians are not exempt." When we face this undesirable reality, when we accept that there will be pain and suffering in spite of our prayers, we accept God's wisdom as higher than our own. We trust that God is writing straight with crooked lines.

Even so, we continue to believe and to pray. We have faith that where our knowledge fails, God's knowledge does not.

This is an old map, one that has been folded and refolded many times, so creased it seems about to fall apart. Yet it leads us to hidden treasure, a deeper reliance on God. Where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wish You Well

Thank you to all my former team members in Arborg for a beautiful card and a donation in memory of Renee sent to . Renee loved butterflies!

"May your new ideas be as numerous, creative & colourful as these Butterflies on the Wing. Wishing you every success in your future endeavors!"

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I found this story today

Hello, readers! My name is Renee Amaryah Lalani Dueck. I am twelve and in Grade 7 at Mennville Christian School. This is a story I have written to tell you about me.
December 17, 1996 7:49:24 AM

What Is My Personality Like?

I would not really call myself quiet and shy, but when I am around people I do not know I can become quite quiet. So sometimes I have problems meeting new people. Once I have met a person though, I am very friendly, and I really enjoy being with my friends. I also enjoy laughing and talking a lot.
If there were one thing I could change about my personality, I would up my level of patience. It needs it badly.

What Do I Look Like?

I have golden brown hair with just a tint of red in it. It’s cut at jaw length, with a part on my left side and the ends curled under, except that the right side never stays so.
People say I look like my Dad. I have brown eyes like him, long arms, and a Dueck nose and chin. Some people have also said that I look like my Aunt Gloria Dueck.

What Are My Interests?

Some of my favorite hobbies are toll painting and T-shirt painting. I also enjoy baking. Right now I have a small business going. I bake muffins and squares and things to sell at Vidir Machine, where my dad works.
I also have several collections. I collect erasers, stamps, coins, key chains and bottles. I have stamps from Canada, US, Brazil, Pakistan, England, Paraguay, China, Japan, France, Germany, Poland, Yugoslavia, Lesotho and Russia. In all I have about 130 stamps. I only have four bottles in my bottle collection, but that is because I just started it. Some of my favorite things to doing my leisure time are reading, writing and riding my horse. I especially like to read historical fiction and books about horses. My favorite authors are Lorriane Snelling, Patricia M. St. John, Hilda Stahl, Lucy Maud Montgomery and Robin Jones Gunn. I think the best book I have ever read is Treasures of the Snow.
Cats are my favorite animals. In my whole life I have had 19 cats. The most playful cat I have ever had was Butterball II. Butterball I was the only cat who was hit by a car. The others have either run away, been squished under the garage door, or died for various other reasons. One white cat named Pearl strangled herself on a frayed lawn chair. The cat I have now is Edelweiss. She is the moodiest cat I have ever had, but she is actually quite cute. I do not think She will ever stop being cute, even when she is an old grandmother, with no ears, no hair and half a tail.

What Have I Done?

As a family we travel lots. I have traveled from Victoria to Halifax and from Anchorage to Chihuahua City, Mexico. I have been to all the provinces and territories except North west Territories and Newfoundland. I have been to most of the states too.
I have taken lessons in both piano and swimming. I am in Grade 3, piano and in Level 7, swimming. I have also taken lessons in horse care. I’m in Unit 1, Lighthorse and Pony 4-H.
Every year since I was eight, I have been to Beaver Creek Bible Camp. I do not plan to miss a year whether I go as a Camper or as a staff member.
What Would I Like to Do?

One of the things I would really like to do is travel to Europe. I would like to go to Great Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands and Scandinavia.
I would like to learn horse jumping, and maybe how to play another instrument, either the violin or the flute.
Some of the things I would like to do when I am older are to be an author, a teacher, a missionary.

What Is My Family Like?

My Mom’s name is Martha and my dad’s name is Raymond. They have been married 25 years, as of July 10,1996. On June 2, 1974, three years after they were married, they had a son named Andre Kristin Davis. They called him Kris. He had SCIDS (Severe Combined Immune Deficiencies Syndrome). He died when he was three.
Jason Ivan Michael was born on August 7, 1978. He too had SCIDS and died at the age of 8 Months after an unsuccessful Bone Marrow Transplant in the Toronto Sick Kids Hospital.
Some time after that, My parents applied for adoption, and Justin became a part of their lives on August 29 when he was 19 days old. My mom knew that I was already on the way, but she still wanted Justin. When I was born seven months later, the case worker was furious.
I followed in my older brothers' footsteps and also was born with SCIDS. Two months subsequent to my birth, my parents read an article in the Reader’s Digest about how doctors in New York knew how to do bone marrow transplants in babies. Doctor Shroeder would have sent me to Seattle, and none of the other doctors would have objected, but my mom and dad wanted me sent to New York.
There I had a Bone Marrow transplant on July 26. I got GHV (Graft-versus-Host) after the transplant, but thankfully I got better. I think though in the long run, it was God who saved me, not any doctor. After me, came my sisters Alayna, born November 10, 1986,and Karalee, born December 2, 1988. That’s my story.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

"Left to Blossom"

Renee worked on a video entiltled "Left to Blossom" last fall. It has been nominated for the prestigeous BC Film Industry Leo Awards. If you will be in Vancouver on May 18, we'd like to invite you to see it. See details below.

Renee also wrote the script and helped produce a short video entitled "Photogenic". She wrote and performed in a powerful reading entitled "Earth, Fire, Water, Wind". Karalee edited the Memorial Services to produce a powerful DVD in Renee's Memory. Feel free to request a copy of each. Donations in her memory are appreciated at

We will continue to miss our beautiful Renee, and we appreciate your continued expressions of sympathy for our devastating loss. We find healing in Jesus' tender embrace, in the assurance of life eternal, and in knowing that you remember and care. Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.


"Left to Blossom" info


hello raymond and martha

i have contacted you because there has been some interesting news about "left to blossom", the final film we made with Renee through cap college. it has been nominated for best student production at the leo awards film festival. the leo awards are high and above the most respected and prestigious awards show for films in british columbia, one of the best in canada. so naturally being selected is a great honour and we just wanted to let you know. obviously without renee's help we never would have been able to properly maintain the enormous production we embarked upon.

the greatest accolade for the project, however, is not the nomination at the leo awards. it was hearing the eulogy that martha wrote for renee was titled "left to blossom". that was an extremely moving moment for myself and other makers of the film. particularly steve, who came up with the title and was always unsure about it, hearing that certainly solidified that the project was everything it could be. we were blessed to have had renee on our crew.

thomas affolter


Heath Affolter sent a message to the members of Lynn's Embrace.
Subject: Left to Blossom screening

Hey friends,

So I've found out the date and time of when "Left to Blossom" will be screening in the Leo Film Festival.

Sunday, May 18
Pacific Cinematheque - 1131 Howe St. Vancouver

Tickets are $9.50 for adults, $8.00 for students, and we get to see all the student films that are nominated for Best Student Production at the Leos. It'll be great. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at

Alright, let me know if there are any questions, please tell as many people as possible, and please come and I'll see you there!


Renee's blog at

Martha's blog

Monday, May 05, 2008

Happy Birthday from Mom

How to make a wonderful life! Love Yourself... Take Chances... Make do...
Know that there aren't any shortcuts to tomorrow... It's what you do with time... Make a wonderful life... The kind of life you deserve.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Home again? or not

I guess it's time to update my blog. Don't know if anyone ever reads it, but I suppose it is as much a journalling therapy as it is informative. Then again it's not a journal in the sense that you would share your innermost secrets with your journal.
Read Martha's blog she has some profound insights on her blog. I read them to be inspired and I read my own to be bored.

We left NYC on Monday. Kara and Alayna were scheduled to leave on NWA at 11:30 and arrive in Winnipeg by 3:30. That was not to be. The rain in NYC delayed the flight enough that they missed the connecting flight and did not arrive in YWG till 8:30 or so.
Martha and I packed the van in the rain - it was full to the roof when we were done - and started driving. We found a very nice brand new Hampton Inn somewhere in PA and then took a leasurely drive to Cleveland, where we had time for some more retail therapy, and a nice dinner at the Texas Roadhouse, before I dropped Martha off at the airport for the flight home. I drove the rest of the way by my lonely self, and arrived home Wednesday at midnight.

Martha and Kara left for Vancouver on the 8:30 pm flight Wednesday, so they were gone by the time I got home. Kara had auditions at Capilano College and at Langara College Thursday and Friday. She is hoping to get accepted at Langara.

This evening Martha and Kara went to Gordie's place for a party. Martha can be reached on Renee's cell at 778-868-3195. She'd love to hear from you. She misses Renee terribly. Nothing in Vancouver seems right without Renee!

Justin finally got his SUBWAY manager's car last night. He finds it stressful to manage a store that has had a revolving door for managers. It's a real busy store with long lineups for lunch, but it looks like he's getting the place cleaned up and organized for greater efficiencies. He got a letter of commendation already for increased sales since he started there.

He seems to have a knack for dealing with staff and motivating them to do their best.

I was in Morris today to review the plant and the plans for the future. It seems that we are losing the BMS business, but the bins business is terrific this year, and so we hope to double our bin production over the next 3 months.

At home I have a big job cleaning up all the stuff I unloaded from the van, framing all of Renee's pictures, and doing the bookkeeping until I find someone that can do that for me. So I'm home alone and would love to go out for coffee with someone.