A Hard Road Home (Part Six) Priorities

if you eat bananas, the mosquitos like you.

Not long after the blizzard, my right knee began to get a little “catchy”.  I had been building up endurance, all winter long, on a recumbent exercise bike.  Sandy, and I began taking long walks outside, in the Spring, but I was eager to begin jogging again.  Each time, however, there would be nagging pain and soreness after a run of any length.  I attributed it to the knee surgery that I had undergone in 2009, and which I assumed, therefore, had been unsuccessful.  Later in the year, when I was examining the knee for the arthroscopy scars, I realized, “Oh, yeah, he operated on the other  knee!”   It’s a good thing I wasn’t the surgeon (“Uh, ma’am, I couldn’t remember which part to amputate, so I took out his brain.”).

            My left knee was now solid.  The right knee, I now knew, would someday require the same surgery.  But, I wanted to put it off.  Several men of the church had conspired to leave their wives and their children behind, and go on a man-trip.  We would leave toward the end of August, and spend several days canoeing and fishing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, north of Ely, Minnesota.  I had never been there.  I envisioned pristine forests, clear clean waters, crisp dark nights filled with the glory of an unmasked Milky Way, the camaraderie of friends, and NO cell phone towers.

Mosquitoes Beware!!

* Use Bounce Fabric Softener Sheets…Best thing ever used inLouisiana…Just wipe on & go…Great for Babies

* Bob, a fisherman, takes one vitamin B-12 tablet a day April through October. He said it works. He was right. The odor the tablet gives out through your skin (YOU can not smell it) repels mosquitoes, black flies, no seeum’s, and gnat’s. It does not work on stinging insects. Hasn’t had a mosquito bite in 33 years. Try it. Every one he has talked into trying it works on them. We suggest taking a multiple B vitamin to get the best results (since we have heard conflicting sources on the type of B-vitamin plus they work better together).

            But, there would be portages.  I was assured that they wouldn’t be very long, about 400 yards for the longest one.  So I convinced myself, based on past experiences, that I could pretty much endure any physical activity, or job requirement, long enough to get it done. 

“I’d rather carry the canoe and the backpack, deal with the pain, and get surgery later, than get surgery now, and not go,” I would say.  “Pain, and swelling only come on after I stop an activity”

* Ken said NPR reports that if you eat bananas, the mosquitos like you,something about the banana oil as your body processes it. (Maybe they need the potassium too) Stop eating bananas for the summer and the mosquitoes will be much less interested.

* “Tough guy” Marines who spend a great deal of time “camping out” say that the very best mosquito repellant you can use is Avon Skin-So-Soft bath oil mixed about half and half with alcohol.

This was not true, of course, as there was still the problem of the catchiness, or clicking, in the knee.  Several times, over the summer, the knee had come very close to buckling beneath me.  By the end of July, I had given up running, at all, as a conditioning exercise, and stuck mainly to the exercise bike.

Ah, well, at least I’d given up bananas.

Mix your own:

  • 20 drops Eucalyptus oil
  • 20 drops Cedar wood oil
  • 10 drops Tea Tree oil
  • 10 drops Geranium oil
  • 2 oz. carrier oil (such as Jojoba)

Mix together in a 4 oz. container. Apply to skin as needed avoiding the eye area. Keep out of reach of children. Test on a small area of skin for sensitivities. Experiment with different percentages of essential oil.

* One of the best natural insect repellants is made from the clear real vanilla (not the grocery store vanilla extract which is mostly alcohol). This is the pure vanilla that is sold inMexico. It’s cheap there if you know of someone that lives there or in theUSclose to the border. If not, health food stores usually carry it or can order it for you. Use it half vanilla and half water and find that it works great for mosquitoes and ticks.

 “When do we get some of your time?” Sandy asked,

“That’s really not fair, you know,” I’d protested. 

“You’re always on the computer.”

“I am not always on the computer.”

“Just about.  When do you ever take time with Trevor?  Or with Drew?  Or me?”

“I…I’ve been busy.  You know this reunion thing is important to me.  I don’t know why.  It just is.  But, it’ll be over soon, so what’s the big deal?”

“The big deal is Trevor needs you, now.  Drew’s going to college soon, and Trevor says you spent every night on the computer when I was in Rockford helping with the baby.”

Blackflies Beware!!

* Build a smoky fire. For centuries this was the only way to escape flies.

* Wear yellow. The flies are definitely attracted to the darker shades of darker colors. Brown, red, green, purple, and blue (including blue jeans blue) make the flies’ job of finding you easier. Yellow stands out as the least favorite color with orange as a second choice.

* Wear reflective clothing. The rough matte finish of wools and flannels are more appealing to the flies than highly reflective synthetics. Flies are drawn to the most prominent part of a silhouette, which explains why the pests always seem worst around our heads.

* Bring vanilla. Same as above with the mosquitoes – the real clear vanilla mixed half and half with water.

* Repellents. Although DEET is reported to deter Blackflies, most repellents seem notably less effective on these pests than they are on mosquitoes.

When all else fails, get a frog!

That was true, of course.  Alexis had given birth to baby Donny on June 3rd.  We were unable to be there because Drew’s high school graduation party was the next day.  I spent wa-a-ay more than I intended to on the party, but it was nice to hear some of his classmates say, “I like your house, Drew.  It’s …. homey”

We did go to Rockford, on Sunday, but I came back the same day. Sandy stayed for two weeks.  While she was there, I used the opportunity to put in a great number of hours working on reunion stuff. 

Fool proof tick removal…

This is great, because it works in those places where it’s sometimes difficult to get to with tweezers: between toes, in the middle of a head full of dark hair, etc. Apply a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball. Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball and let it stay on the tick for a few seconds (15-20), after which the tick will come out on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away.


I missed a lot.   I had to read about it later. 

Don Gilbert Friends, please pray for Lexi and I. We are going to the hospital now to start the induction process, and will hopefully have our little Donny by tomorrow. I can’t wait! Lexi is nervous and a little scared, and to tell the truth, so am I, but I know that God is with us and so are all of your prayers. Thanks!

Like ·  · June 1 at 5:06pm · Trevor Kabala, Don Gilbert and 11 others like this.

Wendy Olchawa Good luck!

June 1 at 5:21pm via mobile · Like


Gladys Barreto Wow. I can’t believe its time already! Time sure flys! Good luck and much love… one hint, use the mirror when she is pushing. That way she can see her progress. Especially if she has an Epidural.

June 1 at 5:28pm · Like 

Joshua Berndt I prayed, brudda! Pray for his salvation.

June 1 at 5:38pm via mobile · Like

Lori Brandon Blaisdell Good luck guys! Be sure to post pictures of the little one when he gets here!

June 1 at 6:29pm · Like 

Lori Brandon Blaisdell Love yas!

June 1 at 6:30pm · Like 

Amanda Ellinger Praying!! Can’t wait to hear of his arrival!!

June 1 at 7:13pm · Like 

Ben Briggs Goodluck!

June 1 at 7:16pm · Like  

Bryan McCaffrey Will do, good luck and let us know how it goes!

June 1 at 7:24pm · Like 

Don Gilbert Thanks everyone!

June 1 at 7:45pm · Like 

‘Clifford Williams Praying for you buddy! Little Don’s Ipod Touch is already packaged up and WILL be sent tomorrow. Sorry for the delay. I have been pulling my hair out with new claims all day.

June 1 at 8:26pm · Like 

Eddy Trinklein U got it Don!

June 1 at 9:16pm · Like 

Don Gilbert Thanks Eddy! How have you been?

June 1 at 9:28pm · Like 

Eddy Trinklein Busy, but good I guess. Defending my MS on Friday

June 1 at 9:30pm · Like 

Paul Miller Your in our prayers!

June 1 at 9:46pm · Like 

Dee Brandon God is there but I’m praying for ya both. Now tell her hurry up. We are all waiting. I’m so excited, for you both but for us too. Give her my love and love you too. G-ma

June 1 at 10:33pm · Like 

Mitch-Joy Gowan Any news yet?

June 1 at 10:36pm · Like 

Don Gilbert Contractions have started without the need for pitocin. Let’s hope they stay that way.

June 2 at 7:43am · Like 

Mitch-Joy Gowan Yeah! I will pray! I guess you guys have had a long night…I’m sorry.

June 2 at 7:56am · Like 

Giles Prill Praying!

June 2 at 8:50am · Like 

Don Gilbert She’s 60% effaced now and 2cm dilated. Great news since the Cervidil was only supposed to soften the cervix, not necessarily start contractions. Please pray that we won’t have to use the pitocin to continue labor. The doctor said we won’t unless her labor slows down a lot.

June 2 at 10:07am · Like 

Sandy Kabala We’re praying continually for Lexi’s labor to progress steadily so little Donny can come into this world soon.

June 2 at 10:38am · Like 

Don Gilbert Lexi just had dilladin given to her for the pain. she’s a little loopy on drugs. lol – she’s feeling great!

June 2 at 10:55am · Like 

Alexis Anne Gilbert Thanks for loving friends. Brandi Richardson was kind enough to bring me her iHome so I could listen to my iPod in the room, and then she ran to the store and got me all natural popsicles. Love you Brandi!

Like ·  · June 2 at 2:42pm via mobile ·

Sherina Winslow, ‘Clifford Williams and 8 others like this. 

Marie Mann Praying and praying

June 2 at 2:50pm · Like

Larissa Bier Will u do a C-section if they say u maybe should?! I understand if something is ‘wrong’ but if they just ask u- will u do it

June 2 at 2:54pm via mobile · Like

Alexis Anne Gilbert was tagged in Don Gilbert’s photo

Mobile Uploads

She loves her boppy pillow and her labor recliner.

June 2 at 3:28pm ·

Don Gilbert Nope. She doesn’t want to do a c-section unless all other options are off the table.

June 2 at 3:55pm via mobile · Like

Larissa Bier Yeah: well that’s great!! Back in the day they didn’t do em!! I hope u guys have some one who knows what they r doing in natural deliveries…. Soaking in warm water…. Standing up!!! NO LAYING on UR BacK!!!!!!!!!!

June 2 at 4:00pm via mobile · Like

Sandy Kabala I’m sure everything will progress just fine and that Donny will be here soon. You can do it , Lexi!! You’re so strong.

June 2 at 4:35pm · Like ·  1 person

Don Gilbert She’s on a birthing ball now, and before that was in the labor recliner. she’s holding her own.

June 2 at 5:15pm · Like

Kathy Luther Fowler Natural? Huh? She’s going natural?

June 2 at 5:21pm · Like

Don Gilbert Getting ready for the epidural now.

June 2 at 5:29pm · Like ·  2 people

Don Gilbert She is 5cm dilated now and 80% effaced. They are getting everything ready to do the epidural soon.

June 2 at 5:30pm · Like

Kathy Luther Fowler Smooth sailing from here on out! 😉

June 2 at 5:31pm via mobile · Like

Kathy Luther Fowler DON! DON’T WATCH! This is the part where Will almost passes out 🙂

June 2 at 5:33pm · Like

Jenn Helsper We are praying for you

June 2 at 5:40pm · Like

Larissa Bier Ohhh man!!! Ill get that before I get a spinal tap again… I am sooo glad I was able to hold my moms hand– my doc showed me the ep needle… Lol its not Very Small!! Lol… Better than 2 spinal taps, sitting all Alone…. Uhhhh that’s great!!! I do wish I looked into giving birth more than I did- and said just wait- when they asked to have the C section…. But my baby was Healthy!! So we will pray that Mommy and Baby r healthy, and not in pain, and daddy won’t pass out 😉

June 2 at 6:15pm via mobile · Like

Don Gilbert Epidural in with no problems whatsoever. Catheter in so she’s peeing in a bag now. lol. She said for everyone that was giving horror stories about the epidural and the pitosin that they were wrong. It wasn’t bad at all.

June 2 at 6:23pm · Like

Larissa Bier The epidural and Potocin isn’t bad!!! Lol she should have talked to me!!!

June 2 at 7:25pm via mobile · Like

Hope Borchardt Meyer Glad to hear! She is right, I had a fine experience too with epidural and pitocin. Tell her to push just like they tell her, give it everything she’s got and he’ll be here!! Good luck!!

June 2 at 8:18pm · Like

Sandy Kabala Hang in there you two. It won’t be long now before you are holding your baby. I wish I was there to see him be born, but I am with you in prayer and love.

June 2 at 8:45pm · Like

Don Gilbert Thanks mom.

June 2 at 8:47pm · Like

Marie Foster Routh Still praying!

June 2 at 9:12pm · Like

Karen Phelps By the time you receive my message, you’ve probably had the baby already. 😛 Wishing you all the best. Will be praying!

June 2 at 9:14pm · Like

Don Gilbert Not yet. Just resting now. Hopefully by tonight or early morning.

June 2 at 9:30pm · Like 

Don Gilbert Alright! We got 7cm dilated now and 100% effaced! May be sooner than we think. She went 2.5cm in just an hour!

June 2 at 10:17pm · Like 

Don Gilbert And we are now 8cm and the head is moving closer to the vaginal opening. It’s at +1 for those of you who that might mean something for.

June 2 at 10:36pm · Like

Don Gilbert Getting very very close. This’ll be the last update until Donny is born. Please pray.

June 3 at 12:28am · Like 

Don Gilbert Thanks to everyone who prayed. Baby Donny is 8lbs 5.5oz – we don’t have a length on him yet, but should before too long. Born at 3:33am.

June 3 at 4:15am · Like ·

Larissa Bier Ohhhhh hope she’s doing good!!! Its been like a day and ahalf now….. I’m praying!!!

June 3 at 7:36am via mobile · Like 

William Wayne Fowler

I wrote a poem about your son since I know you like to write poetry, but are busy right now. So here it is:

The Journey of Will Fowler

– A Manchild Is Born

Posted by willfowler on June 3, 2011 | Notes

A young lad with Father’s name is come into our view,
He reminds us God’s mercy every morning is brand new,

Years to come his every move will bring you both delight,
You’ll enjoy his laughs & prayers at tuck in time each night,

Through the years he’ll change so fast like a living work of art,
At times he’ll make you proud, at times he’ll break your heart,

He’ll share his mother’s love for song and musicality,
He’ll share his father’s passion for all things technology,

Better yet he’ll share their love for God, His Word & Prayer,
His gifts & passions will help him God’s love to others share,

He’ll need a mother’s love for broken bones and broken heart,
He’ll need his father’s guidance to know in life where to start,

His Mother’s life can show him how to pick & treat a woman,
His Father’s life can teach him how to be Christian & a Man,

A child is a gift from God that shows His love like no other,
Cherish everyday the gift of being a Father and a mother,

-Pastor Will Fowler

Like ·  · Share · See Friendship · June 3 at 12:54pm

Don Gilbert and 2 others like this.

Don Gilbert Wow, thanks a lot Will. It means so much. I’m going to repost it on my blog.

June 3 at 1:24pm · Like

Don Gilbert For those of you who read this and don’t know, the first thing that my friend and mentor Steve Curington, who died last October, said when I told him Lexi and I were expecting was, “I pray ye sire a manchild.” We did Steve, we did.

June 3 at 1:26pm · Like

Amy Tucker-Breeze Crying,,,and wow, Will amazing words.

June 3 at 1:52pm via mobile · Like

Monica O’keeffe great poem!! Im going to keep it too. hope thats ok:-)

June 3 at 5:15pm via mobile · Like

Kim DeWees Chatman That was beautiful Pastor Fowler!

June 3 at 8:23pm via mobile · Like

Wendy Ketner Wow…that was awesome

June 4 at 2:52am · Like

They all came to Lost Nation for Father’s Day weekend. 

This was, of course, a miracle birth.  Alexis should not have been able to bear children.  For six years, we gazed into the hollow, zombie eyes of an anorexic daughter.  No amount of persuasion could change what she saw.  She saw fat.  It ruled every step.  It colored every thought. 

“Fat is bad.”

“I’m fat.”

“Fat equals calories.”

“Food contains calories, so I’ll eat less.”

“I’m still fat.”

“Everything I eat must be ‘small’,  ‘half’, ‘thin’, or ‘tiny’…a small apple, a half a sandwich…”

“I’m still fat.”

“I won’t eat at all.”

“Exercise burns calories, so I will exercise.  More exercise, means more calories.  Standing is better than sitting.  Holding something while standing is even better.  Doing isometrics, while holding something, while standing is even better.”

“When I check myself by pinching my skin between my fingers, I can feel the fat.”

“When I look at my profile in a mirror, I can see fat.”

“A wrinkle in my skin means I’m fat.”

“I will pinch myself.”

“I will pinch myself.”

“I will pinch myself.”

“I will check myself in that mirror… and that mirror…and that one…and that one…and that one.”

She had been to hospitals that had forced her to eat.  She would lose the weight again.  She had been to counselors, secular and sacred.  She had been to Twelve Step programs.  She had been placed on medications.  She could not change the girl in the mirror. 

Slowly, agonizingly, she descended within the stronghold grip of her addiction.  She could not keep a job.  She had several minor accidents, falling asleep at the wheel, as a result of being placed on anti-psychotic and anti-depressant medications at the same time.  She fishtailed, and rolled her car, one summer, down the same road I later struggle upon in a blizzard.  The car avoided a potentially fatal impact into a creek embankment, and rolled on into the ditch beyond, finally landing upright across a fence. 

Dazed, but alive, she was found by a farmer and his wife, who brought her up to the house, where he proceeded to demand that I call the sheriff right here, right now, to report this accident, or he would do it himself, and what was I going to do about his fence!  His wife looked embarrassed.  I made the call.  They sent an ambulance. 

The EMTs immobilized her head and neck, as a precaution, before transporting her to a hospital.  There she recovered and was released, but the episode failed to serve as a wake-up call.  Alexis descended deeper into her myopic view of her body.  Her counselors, and doctors concurred.  She should be institutionalized.  There, she could be “managed” with drugs.  We were asked to sign papers.

We did not sign.

The wrenching anguish of a parent watching a child self-destruct is a torment that does not end when papers are signed.  Vacant eyes where once there was joy.  Expressionless lips where once there was laughter.  “Classroom management” drugs producing a numbing slowness of motion, and a mind shrouded in fog.

People don’t know what to do when someone is desperately needy.  At church, many would ask Sandy and me how Alexis was doing.

“Go, and ask her,” I would say.

Most wouldn’t.

One man told us of a church he knew, in Rockford, Illinois, where they take in men and women with drug and alcohol addictions.  He gave us a small brochure about a ministry called Reformers Unanimous.  It was started by Steve Curington, a former drug addict who based his approach not on convincing people that they needed to accept and believe in themselves, but on the simple premise that all strongholds can be overcome by the persistent and consistent application of God’s Word.  There was more to it than that, of course, but I was intrigued and sent for some of the materials. 

I was expecting another rendition of a Twelve Step program, but this was clearly different .  Rather than pick out scriptures that support the process, this seemed (to me anyway) to be a process written by scripture, beginning with the first “principle” in the program: “If God is against it, so am I.”

Alexis agreed to let us apply to the women’s home.  When they accepted her, we knew it was with some reservations.  We were told that, if she failed the program, we must be willing to come and pick her up with one day’s notice.  But, Reformers Unanimous was our last hope.  As we walked away, in Rockford, we left behind a frightened little lost girl trying her best to be courageous.  And enveloped in fog. 

Two weeks into her stay, I was called by Steve Curington, who began by telling me that he didn’t think RU could help Alexis.  When they agreed to take her, they didn’t think her obsessive compulsive diagnosis would be a problem, but he now believed that she had more problems (masked by medications) than they could deal with.  We would have to come and pick her up. 

I reminded him that in his own curriculum he had stated that it takes four to six weeks of consistent application of the RU principles, based on scripture, to break the cycle of an addiction.  I told him that one of the things that had given me great hope, had been the concept that this curriculum had been written by God, using Steve Curington, rather than by Steve Curington, using scripture as a salve.

He said he would try a little longer.

For the next seven months, I worked a lot of eighty-four hour weeks paying for Alexis’ stay at RU.  We visited her only twice (by program design).  When we did, we got to see the heart of NorthLoveBaptistChurch, where RU began.  It is a singular congregation, unlike any other I’ve come across.  While in many churches, if they even have a prayer meeting, the prayers would be directed towards “hearts, and lungs, and livers, and gizzards”, I have seen people at North Love stand in the midst of their peers, and say, “Pray for me, I’m having difficulty in my marriage,” or, “I have an anger problem.”  And the people don’t shy away from the needy.

After Alexis graduated from RU, clear-eyed, and medication-free, she stayed on to help others.  She knows she will always have to be aware of her addictive tendencies, but she knows how to apply truth to overcome lies.  She has learned that there is a different girl in the mirror.  For her graduation, I wrote her this song:

The Me God Sees

Words and music by C.A.Kabala © 2007.


When I see the way God sees,When my eyes can clearly focus

By the light sent from above,

That’s when I know the truths God shows,

And I can grow in revelation,

And revel in His love.


Yes, there’s a wound; there is a veil.

Beyond that wound, God never fails.

It’s where I gaze at my reflection,

And I see the me God sees.


I am renewed, restored, redeemed, reborn;

Returning to the glory of His covering―recovering.

I’m a resurrection story.

Reconciled, reunited,

I can be the me God sees.


I was deceived.  I now believe

I am a child―forever wanted;

And I know I’m not alone.

I can be strong, turn from wrong,

Join hands in celebration,

And share what I’ve been shown.


Release the wound!  Remove the veil!

Beyond that wound, God never fails.

It’s where I gaze at my reflection,

And I see the me God sees.


I am renewed, restored, redeemed, reborn;

Returning to the glory of His covering―recovering.

I’m a resurrection story.

Reconciled, reunited,

I can be the me God sees.


God does not surrender any ground.

I am not discarded; I am found!


Renewed! Restored! Redeemed! Reborn!

Returning to the glory of His covering―Recovering!

I’m a resurrection story.

Reconciled, reunited,

I can be―

I can be―

The me God sees.

 Now, in the summer of 2011, I found myself wrapped up in my own addiction: busyness.

Father’s Day.  Independence Day.  Birthdays.  Baby Showers that Sandy attended.  A visit to Kansas City to see the one daughter who was not going to have a baby, but who was going to Oaxaca, Mexico for a medical missions trip (we were not going to run that half-marathon together this summer, after all).  Preparing for the Reunion.  Planning for the Boundary Waters.  Trevor busy detasseling.  Drew busy working two summer jobs.  Busyness… everywhere.   

A couple of weeks before the Davenport West, Class of ’71, 40th Reunion Celebration, I added yet another item to my plate.  I decided to turn the dinner/dance into a livestream videocast on the internet for the sake of those around the country who could not make it to Davenport.  It was well-received, I guess, but one more thing to take up all my time. 

Sandy was not pleased, again.  I had made myself noble, but the family had suffered.  The days leading up to the reunion were stressful. To see if I was even listening, she posed a comic twist,  “Do you ever take time to just stop and smell the music?”

“Of course, I do,” I insisted, “Wait…What?”

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