Play or Entertain: 5MinuteFriday

Today’s word: PLAY

My nephew, Eric, and his family are living in Waco, TX. Their lives were turned upside down this week when their son, Ever, was diagnosed with leukemia at the children’s hospital in Temple, TX.

Here’s what I want you to know: these parents PLAY with their children. They visited us in 2014 when there were only two children, Ezri and Ever. They had not been here long when my husband looked at our living room and said, “They’ve taken over!” It was a playground of their toys, some of mine, and just stuff that Ezri figured out how to enjoy.

Stefanie, Eric, Ever, and Ezri Johnsoni at our house in 2014

Ever was just pulling up that summer. Ezri was the creative one.

This family was in the middle of a transition that eventually led them to Texas. But they impressed me so much with their patience and firm values that children do not need to be entertained. We trekked through Opry Mills mall avoiding the Disney Store and Build-a-Bear store.

Eric and Stefanie provide all kinds of play opportunities, and sometimes the kids are in front of screens. But usually a parent is right there, engaged in the process. I’ve seen pictures of them watching the first Star Wars movie and Dad is watching with them. They see Disney movies on Netflix or DVD and Stefanie may include a comment , “I tear up every time.”

It is so easy to use movies or the IPad or phone to keep children entertained, busy, out of your hair! I’ve done it with Grace and great nieces and nephews, but I hope we remember that a child’s primary job is to play. Learning comes from their play. 

Okay that’s my soapbox rant for now, but I want to share an update on Ever’s situation.

Here is the family today. Elinor is now the youngest, Ever is almost four, and Ezri is six.

Eric and Ever, Stefanie, Elinor, and Ezri

Ever had a bone marrow biopsy on Wednesday, and we learned he has Pre-B cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. this is the “best” type of leukemia for treatment. On Thursday he had a port put in, and they checked his spinal fluid and brain to be sure there no cells there. 

Such good news on late last night, no cells in the other places. He had his first chemo treatment yesterday. His treatment will be outpatient in a few days: 35 days of treatment, then another bone marrow biopsy.  Best outcome is that he will be on a maintenance drug after the first treatment.

This little guy just pulls at my heart strings. He loves dinosaurs, and last summer we all were in Washington D.C. for his granddaddy’s retirement ceremony.  Ever got to see the dinosaurs at the Smithsonian!

Finally, a meal after the procedure!

Celebration meal in D.C. Eric and family are on the right. Don’t know where Ezri is.

We are asking for prayers for a successful treatment, support for his parents, and comfort for his sisters as they live with this new “normal” life for the whole family.

Thanks be to God today for

  • an oncologist who came from St. Jude’s in Memphis
  • confident and caring staff at the hospital
  • friends from around the world who send their love and prayers 
  • social media doing a wonderful thing – spreading the word to help



12 thoughts on “Play or Entertain: 5MinuteFriday

  1. Natasha

    What a beautiful post and tribute to this family. So many things about your words put things into perspective. Praying for this sweet family and thankful to be your FMF neighbor this week.

  2. mghollis38

    I will be praying for little Ever and hopefully he can continue to play while receiving treatments. It sounds like such a sweet family. 🙂

    (your neighbor at FMF)

  3. Ruth Shoaf

    Oh, no. I am so sorry to hear about Ever’s illness. He looks like a loveable, precious little boy. I hope he can tolerate the chemo without much sickness. After watching the effects on my son, Tim, the very thought of chemo gives me the hebe- geebes. (Is that a good term?) I hope he does well.

  4. Gale Barker

    Thanks for the post, Martel. Prayers are offered for all of the family and the medical team.

  5. Barry Boettcher

    Hearing the word “cancer” makes our heart ache for the person that’s just been told, whether it’s and adult or child. The truth is, it’s more heart wrenching when it’s a little child. They haven’t been on this earth that long and the suffering is coming soon. Little Ever will have so many prayers (lights) going up to God…God will see enormous torches shining heavenward for him. We’ll have one of those lights shining and asking for healing and comfort. God bless Ever and his family. K


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